Microsoft turns to the microbiome with Eagle Genomics partnership

green bacteria
The two companies' AI platform will be aimed at microbiome research and product-testing applications in healthcare, cosmetics, personal care and food. (Gerd Altmann)

Microsoft has signed on to its first partnership in exploring the genomics of the microbiome—with plans to construct an enterprise research platform with various applications—through a team-up with bioinformatics software developer Eagle Genomics.

The partnership will route through the computing giant’s Microsoft Genomics unit, which provides Azure cloud platform services designed for processing the large volumes of data produced in the field. Eagle and Microsoft plan to study the helpful bacteria, fungi and viruses present in the body and the roles they play in disease.

The two companies ultimately hope to build an artificial intelligence platform aimed at enterprise customers, with microbiome-research applications in healthcare, cosmetics, personal care and food. It will use Eagle’s proprietary discovery platform, e[automateddatascientist], which uses machine learning and Azure services to assess a product's suitability for consumption or use by examining its impact on the complex human microbiome, with the goal of accelerating market entry and mitigating risk. The platform is in use at companies including GlaxoSmithKline and Unilever, Eagle said in a statement, which hopes its collaboration with Microsoft will allow it to reach more customers.

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The company estimates the global human microbiome research market to grow by over 20% in the next five years, to over $500 million, while markets for probiotic foods, animal feed, nutraceuticals and medical foods total in the tens of billions of dollars. Cambridge, U.K.-based Eagle recently graduated from Microsoft’s ScaleUp, a program for startup companies formerly known as Microsoft Accelerator, which provides training in sales, marketing and technical support.