U.K. sets up a $16M competition to find genome data analysis tools

The United Kingdom is moving heavily into sequencing through its 100K Genome Project, but the data is of little use without analytical abilities. With this in mind, the U.K. government has coughed up an extra $16 million to find genomics sequence data analysis and interpretation tools.

Genomics England will use the funding to run a competition to find the bioinformatics tools, software pipelines, computer hardware and analysis algorithms that can make sense of its sequencing data. The first phase of the project will award up to $325,000 to multiple initiatives. Each will have 6 months to use the cash to advance development of their technology. The most promising phase one technologies will then receive more funding to fully evaluate their prototypes.

Ultimately, success in the competition could lead to the technology being implemented in the 100K Genome Project, which will need software to analyze the data and link it to patients' health records. "Our plans to map 100,000 genomes over the next 5 years will lead to truly ground-breaking discoveries about how diseases work and how we can treat them more effectively," U.K. health minister Lord Howe said. Applicants have until February 5 to submit their proposals.

The injection of $16 million into the U.K. bioinformatics sector will help Genomics England fulfill its primary objective of making the 100K Genome Project a success, as well as its secondary goal of stimulating economic growth. While Genomics England partnered with Illumina ($ILMN) for the sequencing part of its work, the use of Small Business Research Initiative cash to fund the bioinformatics component suggests niche companies and startups are in contention for the data analysis business.

- read the press release
- here's the competition page
- get more from PHG Foundation