We spoke to Oriol Canela Xandri and Les Gaw from startup Omecu to find out more about how they aim to make analysing large genetic datasets easier, how they have benefited from the DDE and Fast Track programmes and how they hope the venture will create a paradigm shift in genetic analysis.
Oriol: I have been developing tools to help analyse large genetic datasets for the past eight years. Recently, with the support of Edinburgh Innovations and the University of Edinburgh, I started to fully recognise the commercial potential.
Les: I’ve worked with the University and Edinburgh Innovations for the last six years or so, helping various early-stage startups and sharing my commercial experience. That was my original introduction to Omecu and then, because I believe so strongly in its potential, I came on board.
Oriol: It’s quite simple. The amount of genetic and health related data generated is increasing very quickly, we want to make it easier for that data to be efficiently analysed.
Oriol: Data, and its analysis, is our whole reason for being. Our web interface enables two things. One, it prepares the data, runs the analysis and exports the results interactively without requiring programming skills. And two, it does that without the user needing to directly see the data.
Les: The key thing is that people will have access to that data in an affordable and secure manner, without any specialised skill sets.
Oriol: Part of my motivation is providing for my family, but being an entrepreneur is also a way of building something of my own that makes real impact.
Les: For Omecu specifically, I can see an opportunity to build something scalable and global that can make a difference and is something meaningful. That’s a real motivator.
Oriol: Success would be to have developed the kind of data hub where the people can access all sorts of data sets around the world.
Les: I agree, success is really the technology and product being adopted by users on a global basis. On another level, it would be creating high value jobs in Scotland and opportunities for people to be part of that journey within the Scottish ecosystem.
Oriol: The Fast Track programme has really helped accelerate my progress. If you want to build a business, you need a much more structured approach than the one you might take in academic research. Talking to someone like Les, who has a lot of experience, through the Fast Track programme means I didn’t have to learn it all the hard way.
Les: I’ve worked with the University on a variety of similar programmes over the years. I really enjoy helping people move their ideas forward.
Oriol: We’re currently finalising the spin out from the University – allowing us to become a commercial entity. Then we’ll finalise the funding, get the Innovate UK grant underway and start expanding our team.