Bioz has exited stealth with funding from 5AM Ventures and a platform it sees as taking some of the drudgery and guesswork out of sourcing life science research products. The platform uses natural language processing to collect and analyze data on hundreds of millions of research products, before packaging up the information in a way designed to facilitate procurement decisions.
Palo Alto, CA-based Bioz is built on a system capable of scraping and analyzing peer-reviewed papers for insights into which reagents, assays, instruments and other products researchers are using and how they are being deployed. By aggregating data and putting them through an algorithm designed to rate the products they relate to against quantitative and qualitative parameters, Bioz thinks it can make it easier for researchers to identify which products are most appropriate for their experiments.
Prominent Silicon Valley-based life science investor 5AM Ventures has got behind the idea, leading a $3 million seed round in Bioz. The funding comes at a time when Bioz is looking to accelerate growth of its user base. Having begun life in 2013, Bioz claims to have reached 30,000 users during its beta-testing phase. Roche’s ($RHHBY) Genentech and a slew of big-name academic research sites are listed by Bioz as already using the platform.
If Bioz is to turn the influx of $3 million and the active promotion it will enable into an uptick in use of the platform at and beyond these organizations, it must persuade researchers they are better off looking to it for guidance than relying on their existing sources of information. While some suppliers, such as Abcam, collate user reviews and literature references for their products, a mix of word of mouth and hands-on experience is often used to judge which supplier to choose.
Bioz is aiming to broaden the pool of knowledge researchers can easily draw on when making these decisions. When a user searches for anti-histone H3 antibody, for example, Bioz displays a chart showing that Abcam, Cell Signaling and Merck Millipore are the three highest rated suppliers of the product. Another chart tracks vendor share over time. Clicking through leads users to a page that links out to where they can buy a product from a vendor.
If Bioz can help researchers identify reliable sources of products, particularly those such as antibodies in which quality issues are prevalent, it could prove popular. “The quality of the tools and the supplies matters greatly,” Esther Dyson, a Bioz investor who also backed 23andMe, said in a statement. "To a scientist, the quality of a tool matters as much as a hotel might to a traveler. But until Bioz, there hasn’t been any reliable way for a scientist to know what she is getting when she orders supplies."
The question, which will only be answered through real-world use of the platform, is whether the star ratings Bioz assigns to products correlate to how well they work in practice.
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