Core Informatics snags $17.5M to fuel lab software land grab

Core Informatics CEO Josh Geballe

Core Informatics has closed a $17.5 million Series B round to bankroll its campaign to capture an ever-growing slice of the LIMS and ELN markets. The cash will fund an across-the-board hiring spree and swell Core Informatics' current 65-strong headcount by 50% over the next 5 months.

For much of its 9-year history, Core Informatics was a bootstrapped business that quietly went about building a name for itself as a provider of scalable, integrated web-based lab software tools, a business model that meant it had as much in common with the likes of cloud-pioneers Salesforce ($CRM) and Medidata ($MDSO) as its rivals in the LIMS and ELN markets. Having established this base, Core Informatics shifted gears last year, wrapping up a $5 million Series A round to support the expansion of its teams, notably in software engineering, product development and customer support.

A little more than one year later, Core Informatics has tapped investors again, this time bringing new backer Oak HC/FT on board to lead a $17.5 million Series B round. Like last year, the focus is on adding staff to keep pace with rising demand. "We're going to use this investment to continue to scale up all functions of our business, with a particular focus on our customer success organization, product engineering team and expanding our Platform for Science Marketplace," Core Informatics CEO Josh Geballe, a former IBM ($IBM) executive, told FierceBiotechIT.

The recently created Platform for Science Marketplace is indicative of how Core Informatics has tried to outperform its more-established rivals since it was founded in 2006. Users can download apps from the marketplace to bolt on capabilities to their core systems as needed. The model has precedents in other industries that have been disrupted by cloud-based service providers. "It's very much borrowing the concept Salesforce pioneered a number of years ago with and now bringing that to the realm of scientific data management," Geballe said.

Such a web-based, easily integratable approach is a key part of Core Informatics' pitch. It is at the heart of the thinking behind its decision to run its LIMS, ELN and SDMS on an integrated platform with one code base. As Geballe sees it, to do anything else simply shifts the burden of integration onto clients. "There are a lot of other companies that rely on individual installations of these products and then clients have to spend an enormous amount of time and money to integrate them and deal with that level of complexity," he said.

Core Informatics is far from alone in trying to integrate the various pieces of software that make up a lab in 2015 and offer the package as either a hosted or on-premises package. Heavyweights such as Thermo Fisher Scientific ($TMO) and the Abbott ($ABT)-owned Starlims have been pushing unified, web-based and cloud-hosted systems for years. But Geballe nonetheless thinks innovation has lagged behind industry expectations. "We hear from a lot of clients that they feel very underserved by the lack of innovation that has gone on over the past few years in this space," he said.

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