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AGTC Makes First Bioinformatics Investment in AnVil Informatics

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Applied Genomic Technology Capital Funds is putting its bioinformatics investment money where its mouth is. AGTC, Seaflower Ventures, and the Mason Wells Biomedical Fund have committed $3.5 million to AnVil Informatics in its first round of venture capital financing. The amount is “fairly typical” for a software/consulting startup, according to AGTC partner David Stone.

The new funding will hasten AnVil’s software development and licensing efforts, said Michael McManus, AnVil president and COO. The University of Masachusetts, Lowell, spin-off currently provides data analysis services using its proprietary high-dimensional data mining and visualization technology.

AnVil’s high-dimensional tools can be used to analyze large datasets by looking at hundreds of variables at a time, McManus said. The technology is an improvement on the scatterplot approach to visual representation, he said.

“If you have 10 variables you need 45 scatterplots to cover all the 2D combinations,” McManus explained. “Imagine if you have hundreds. It just becomes an intractable problem,” he said.

The visualization technology is n-dimensional, according to McManus. “If you have 50 or a hundred or 400 variables, you could put them in that display.” The result is a summary view of hundreds of variable interactions in a single picture.

AnVil’s current customers include Genzyme, Arqule, and Polygenics. McManus said that a number of others are in the process of signing on for AnVil’s services.

A commercial version of the high-dimensional visualization tool should be available in the fourth quarter of 2001, McManus said. He noted that this would not be a “shrink-wrapped” software product, but will require a limited amount of customization for each user.

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