BIONEXT, a bioinformatics company at the crossroads of IT and biotechnology, has announced that it has raised €1 million in seed funding from the Cap Innov’Est fund and various angel investors. BIONEXT’s ambition is to become the reference company of the biology, collecting and centralizing, on a single big-data platform, all of the available knowledge on structural and omics data, including genomics, proteomics and metabolomics, and create innovative applications capable of using these data. BIONEXT’s objectives are to accelerate and de-risk the development cycle of new drugs, whose average duration and cost have now reached 12 years and €1.2 billion, and to boost therapeutic innovation, which has also been losing ground in the past 20 years.
BIONEXT’s big-data platform harnesses the virtually unlimited processing power offered by cloud computing and will allow, for example, to predict in less than an hour the effect of a drug on the human body. Its particular value lies in its ability to uncover new relevant indications of a drug, to identify a pharmaceutical compound’s targets, or to anticipate a lack of efficiency or potential side effects during the development of a drug. “Considering the number of drug candidates that fail to pass phases 2 or 3 of clinical trials following efficiency or toxicity issues, despite years of R&D and tens to hundreds of millions of euros invested at a loss, being able to detect flaws early on and ahead of time to avoid subsequent failures thanks to the power of digital technology is of huge significance,” emphasized Serge-Henri Albou, CEO of BIONEXT.
Eventually, these technologies will gain traction and move to the heart of personalized medicine, from further promoting the development of compounding drugs to prescribing them through, for example, companion diagnostics technologies.
The pharmaceutical and biotech industries are going through a complete overhaul and digital technologies will be at the heart of this revolution. “The contribution of our BVS (Bionext Virtual Screening) solution to research and drug development can be compared to the revolution brought on by Dassault Systèmes, first in enhanced computer-aided aircraft design thirty years ago with CATIA. Our ambition is to be the Dassault Systèmes of health and quickly become the industry standard,” said Serge-Henri Albou.
BIONEXT also benefits from an innovative business model, inspired by IT best practices transposed to the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. In contrast to what is currently being done in the field, BIONEXT wants to make its technologies accessible to everyone and foster innovation. Part of the company’s product offering will be sold to clients as online services on a per-analysis or subscription basis. Client fees will start from a minimum of €100 euros and no specific computer skills or dedicated hardware will be required: a browser will suffice to launch the analysis of a compound or a drug and have access to the results. “Our goal is to gain, thanks to cloud computing and SaaS (Software as a Service) computing platforms, 98% of the market share neglected by our competitors as a result of their business models and traditional technologies,” explained Serge-Henri Albou.
Our service offering, which will be launched in the course of 2015, relies on a disruptive technology protected by two patents. The result of ten years of public and private R&D efforts, BIONEXT is currently funded for up to two million euros, in part, by wining various French and European contests. BIONEXT was created by Serge-Henri Albou, and Laurent-Philippe Albou, who holds a PhD in structural bioinformatics from the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology (IGBMC) in Strasbourg, France, which he obtained under the supervision of Prof. Dino Moras and Dr Olivier Poch. The BIONEXT project was born in 2008, following intense discussions between Laurent-Philippe and his brother Serge-Henri, then manager of an IT company. The Albou brothers then brought together a board of directors with a strong experience in the areas of IT and biotechnology, including Jean-Paul BERTHOLIER (JVC Kenwood Holdings Inc., Avid, EFI), Paul Amsellem (The Mobile Network Group, Adenyo, Nokia) and Gilles Avenard (co-founder and former CEO of BioAlliance Pharma, France Biotech). With their help, they were able to develop an innovative business model to position their disruptive technology in such a way that would stand out from the competition.
Alsace Capital, which co-manages with Invest PME (Siparex) the Cap Innov’Est seed fund, chose to support the development of this high growth potential company by investing €800,000 in BIONEXT’s capital. “Our investment in BIONEXT, which leverages on a real disruptive technology and is managed by a solid, diverse and dynamic team, will allow the company to position itself in a fast-growing global market, and quickly become a major player in bioinformatics,” explained Jean-François RAX, Investment Director at the Cap Innov’Est’s fund. BIONEXT also raised more than 200,000 euros from the Alsace Business Angels fund and independent business angel investors, as well as a loan of 300,000 euros from BPI France, aimed at strengthening the company’s financial position and capital structure. These various investments will allow BIONEXT to launch its first service offering this year and quickly expand internationally.