When serial entrepreneur Hermann Hauser talks about companies with revolutionary technology on a global scale it is wise to listen. He has started many of them and backed a good deal more with hard cash.
Having ‘fathered’ ARM and steered the superchip architect into the technology world, his assessment of Cambridge Consultants spin-out Evonetix is informative. Evonetix is one of the early entries to the current Business Weekly Awards.
Dr Hauser, who has supported the company from birth, says: “Evonetix will do to gene-synthesis what Solexa did to gene-sequencing – revolutionise it.
“There has been an architectural breakthrough which allows Evonetix to produce base-accurate genes of any length at a cost and speed that is orders of magnitude cheaper and faster than ever before.
“The team consists of genius level analogue chip designers from CCL and some equally gifted researchers from the original Solexa team who were responsible for a cost reduction in sequencing by a factor of 10,000 in seven years.”
Given such a rousing testimonial from such a serial talent spotter and investor, it is rewarding to see Evonetix enter for three categories of the Business Weekly Awards. It is gunning for Startup of the Year, Disruptive Technology and Life Science Innovation.
New CEO Tim Brears, ex-CEO of Xention and who gained his PhD at Cambridge University, has the task of overseeing the current fundraising process and creating the roadmap for growth – no mean task considering the number of game-changing applications for its technology.
Based at Chesterford Research Park’s Science Village – chosen as a springboard to global growth – Evonetix is commercialising a new approach to the synthesis of DNA.
It is developing a novel method of manufacturing DNA molecules, using a microchip-based array. The resulting economies of scale mean that Evonetix’ technology will be more economical and flexible than the currently available methods, as well as being more comprehensive in its output.
Given that DNA is the raw material for the fast-emerging and exciting field of synthetic biology, economical and flexible manufacture is critical.
Ultimately, as well as engineering and shipping DNA at scale, Evonetix has the chance of collaring the massive digital data storage market in this space. The current team of 15 is set to grow significantly in coming months.
The company’s former CEO Nick McCook and the CSO Joe Brennan, were key players in the Solexa team. Solexa revolutionised automated DNA sequencing and Illumina has since leveraged the technology to power its world-leading sequencing instruments – a major uptick in the fight against all manner of diseases based on analysis of an individual’s genetic make-up.
Solexa was bought by US giant Illumina, which is currently expanding massively in Cambridge, for $600 million in January 2007.