As venture capital investors we are continuously thinking about the future. What breakthrough technologies we see today are going to be the necessities of tomorrow? At Harris & Harris Group we are committed to our nanotechnology investment thesis as we believe this affords us a first look at advances in energy, healthcare and electronics. However, there are compelling investment opportunities that interface directly with nanotechnology. Here, I consider the interface of nanotechnology and big data.
In healthcare, we are investing in nanotechnology enabled life science companies that develop methods, tools and systems that generate large amounts of useful data. For instance, Metabolon generates complete biochemical profiles for diagnostic applications; OpGen generates whole genome mapping for personalized medicine; and Champions Oncology generates a therapeutic and molecular profile for cancer treatment solutions. The data generated at these companies is analyzed using sophisticated software to extract the meaningful information. Each set of data on its own is valuable. However, as more and more data becomes available, systems are emerging that will aggregate many types of molecular data originating at several different companies, combined with biomarker and clinical data to make recommendations on treatment solutions. In this trend, the sum of the parts is likely to be greater than each individual component, which may require nanotechnology enabled companies to be prepared to interface with the solutions designed to aggregate very large amounts of data for meta-analysis and treatment recommendations.
The challenges are, first, to produce and source the relevant information needed to make decisions, and, second, to create the algorithms that will extract and distill the relevant information and then to reduce the time it takes to analyze the vast amount of data to be relevant to a patient waiting for a treatment decision. Nanotechnology plays a direct role in solving the first challenge, with Metabolon, OpGen and Champions Oncology being important examples. Nanotechnology is adjacent to the solution of the second challenge in that the companies developing the solutions for meta-analysis will require the data generated by nanotechnology enabled methods, tools and systems. As Harris & Harris Group looks toward the future, a natural progression for us would be to consider investing in big data solutions that utilize the information produced by nanotechnology.