With pharma clientele, Big Data-mapping startup Ayasdi lands $30.6M financing

Ayasdi has made major progress with investors who are interested in its new approach to analyzing complex data from pharma, energy and other sectors. The Palo Alto, CA-based company scored $30.6 million in a Series B round of financing from a deep-pocketed crowd that includes Citi Ventures, GE Ventures as well as returning backers Khosla Ventures and Floodgate.

A 2008 spinoff of Stanford University, Ayasdi has seen its business take off over the past year as companies from multiple industries seek answers from huge amounts of digital data. On the life sciences side, the company began working late last year with the pharma giant Merck ($MRK), providing analysis of drug research data. In January the startup scored more than $10 million in a Series A round, and co-founder and CEO Gurjeet Singh told me at the time that he wanted his company's technology to shorten the length of time required to advance drugs from ideas to products.

Pharma companies and others employ scads of data scientists and statisticians to seek answers or knowledge from massive troves of information, and one of the key problems in this pursuit is to know what questions to ask of the data. As reported in January, Ayasdi offers an analytics platform that combines machine-learning algorithms and a branch of mathematics called topographical data analysis to automatically query large datasets and spot trends or patterns. The government intelligence sector accounts for nearly a third of the company's business, Singh says, with life sciences coming in a close second with about a quarter of its business.

"There are many sources of data involved in taking a drug from an idea to a clinical trial and beyond," Singh said in an interview. These datasets are often no bigger than those from other sectors, but they are more complex in many cases. This complexity has led drug researchers to Ayasdi.

Ayasdi plans to invest a portion of the money from its second-round financing--which Singh intends to be the last time his company raises VC capital--in expanding its technology platform and tailoring the software for specific industries. For example, the company plans to release a version of its software for analyzing data from The Cancer Genome Atlas, which has generated data from sequencing the DNA of thousands of tumors. Yet scientists have no easy way of mining the cancer genome data for discoveries about the molecular causes of cancer.

Even without such products, companies and researchers have already given Ayasdi's technology a try through customer or collaborator relationships. The company is working with the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Harvard Medical School, to name three others in the life sciences arena.

- here's the release
- check out Forbes' article

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