Data storage

DNA-Based Data Storage Platform Catalog Raises $ 35 Million – TechCrunch


Conventional electronic media such as USB sticks and hard drives require power consumption to process a large amount of high-density data and information overload and are vulnerable to security issues due to limited storage space. storage. There is also a problem of high cost when it comes to transmitting the stored data.

To solve the problems of traditional electronic media, a Boston startup, Catalog, was founded in 2016 by scientists at MIT, including co-founder and CEO Hyunjun Park, developing an energy-efficient, cost-effective and more secure data storage and computation platform using synthetic DNA.

The startup announced today that it has secured a $ 35 million Series B funding round to continue developing its DNA-based data computation tools.

that of South Korea Hanwha Impact led the Series B round and was joined by existing Hong Kong-based funder Li Ka-Shing’s Business HorizonsCEO Hyunjun Park said in an interview with TechCrunch.

The last funding will be used to accelerate the development of the Catalog synthesis DNA-powered computing platform, which allows the management, calculation and automation of data. Catalog also plans to invest more in the development of compute functions over the next two to three years, Park told TechCrunch. The platform is expected to hit the market around 2025, Park said.

The company, which is a member of DNA storage alliance, will continue to support collaborators and partners of the DNA-based computer system to help the industry grow, according to Park.

Series B brings its total funding to about $ 60 million; Park declined to disclose his assessment. This round comes after a $ 10 million Series A led by Horizons Ventures in 2020 and a $ 9 million round of funding in 2018 co-led by New Enterprise Associates and OS funds and other investors, Park said.

While the concept of using DNA as a medium for data storage and computation has been around for years, much of the work has been relegated to academia. Catalog has discovered a way to incorporate DNA into algorithms and applications with potentially widespread commercial use through its proprietary data encoding scheme to automation.

“Catalog’s proprietary approach to writing information into DNA, namely its coding scheme, is revolutionary in that minimal de novo DNA synthesis is required to store an enormous amount of information. Because the low speed and high cost of DNA synthesis has traditionally been the bottleneck in this area, ”Park explained.

Catalog’s custom-developed DNA editor Shannon is capable of hundreds and thousands of chemical reactions per second. Shannon, which is designed to write at speeds of over 10MB / s at full capacity, stores up to 1.63TB of compressed data in a single run.

Expected applications of Catalog technology include fraud detection in financial services, image processing for manufacturing flaw discovery, and digital signal processing, such as seismic processing in the energy industry. .

“Catalog has worked with companies in the IT, media, entertainment and energy industries. Through this work, we discovered the wide applicability of our [DNA-based data storage and computing] platform across industries and heavy data users, ”Park said. He added that the dozen companies working as co-development partners and collaborators are based in the United States and Europe.

The computer industry has witnessed a proliferation of suitable technologies in recent years, including accelerators (GPU, FPGA), quantum computers, as well as extremely parallel computers. The advent of the DNA-based computer completes this portfolio, with an emphasis on low-power, spatially dense and secure computing, separated from the realities and limitations of electronic systems, in accordance with its declaration.

“As a benchmark, the high-performance computing market is currently around $ 40 billion a year and growing rapidly,” Park said when asked how big the global market is.

“Companies such as Microsoft, Twist, Illumina and Western Digital formed the DNA Storage Alliance earlier this year. Catalog is a member of that organization and is taking it to the next level by focusing on computation and thereby empowering businesses to generate business value from data that would otherwise have been thrown away or left in a cold warehouse, ”said Park.

“Catalog technology represents a viable avenue for solving the problem of not only the accumulation and retention of mass of data, but more importantly, the efficient use of data,” said Nick Ha, vice president by Hanwha Impact Partners.

Earlier this year, Catalog opened an office in Seoul, South Korea, to expand into Asia, Park noted.