CHICAGO – Insightful Science is rebranding its business as it continues to integrate different pieces of life science research and analytics software from a variety of acquisitions.
Earlier this week, the company said it is changing its name to Dotmatics, the name of a company it acquired in March 2021.
According to CEO Thomas Swalla, the Boston-based firm took the Dotmatics name because it was better known in the bioinformatics industry, but also because the pre-merger Dotmatics specialized in software-as-a-service technology to automate laboratory data workflows, which is exactly what the current company is trying to do.
Including the January purchase of Omiq, maker of a cloud-based flow cytometry analysis platform that allows researchers to identify drug or therapeutic interactions in lab samples by tracking biomarkers, the former Insightful Science has made 11 acquisitions since its inception in late 2017.
"Dotmatics was really a business that … ties all of the data that comes out of these applications," Swalla explained. "Our applications solve pain for the individual scientists trying to do their job, but Dotmatics solves the organizational pain of trying to drive efficiency into that process" by making data interoperable and shareable.
"Today, we need to go to market as one brand," Swalla said. "We are one brand that just happens to have 11 products."
The former Insightful Science has never disclosed the value of its individual acquisitions but said that it spent about $1 billion in total to purchase five software applications in 2021.
The rebranded Dotmatics is still owned by Insight Partners, a global venture capital and private equity firm, and has more than 800 employees in 21 countries. It serves 10,000 customers, which together employ about 2 million scientists in 180 countries, and expects to grow to more than $200 million in annual revenue this year.
Insightful started out in 2017 by buying GraphPad Prism, an application for statistical analysis of life sciences data. Other notable acquisitions included SnapGene to process plasmid data, Geneious for DNA data analysis, and, in December, Protein Metrics for proteomic analysis.
"Those products will always exist and stand on their own. We just need to make it easier for the data to integrate to and from those products," Swalla said. "We're allowing the data to come in and out in a bidirectional manner from those applications to our data platform that we have, so you truly do provide an end-to-end solution."
Since the former Insightful bought Dotmatics a little more than a year ago, the firm has been particularly busy behind the scenes integrating GraphPad Prism, Geneious, and SnapGene, which Swalla called the company's most popular applications.
At the Bio-IT World Conference & Expo in Boston next week, the company plans to offer more details about what the integrations will look like for customers.
The firm is in the business of offering software to support drug discovery and development, regardless of what instruments generate the data. In Swalla's opinion, the longtime pattern of instrument manufacturers buying software products to protect market share in their core businesses has led to "high fragmentation" and data siloing.
Dotmatics wants to break down those silos to increase the efficiency of research and development by tying ecosystems together.
Swalla said that drug development has developed a need for data science over the years and is "a little bit further behind some other industries like fintech or insurance tech."
Plus, the bioinformatics field is "high-dimensional" and rapidly changing. For example, Swalla noted, since the company started a little more than four years ago, spatial transcriptomics has emerged as a popular field in biomedical research, as have gene and cell therapies.
"At the same time, instruments obviously are getting better, so you're drilling down into single cells," Swalla said. "Data is exploding at the same time where the modality is getting more complex, and the only thing you have to actually manage that is software."
Since 2020, the firm has owned Cytapex Bioinformatics, a contract research organization that partners with pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device companies to improve and automate high-throughput and high-dimensional cytometry informatics for basic and clinical research, biomarker discovery, and clinical trials.
Cytapex was founded by Ryan Brinkman, a University of British Columbia medical geneticist who has been conducting research at the nexus of machine learning and flow cytometry since the early 2000s. That company, and now Dotmatics, automates the historically manual process of clustering and gating cells identified in flow cytometry.
The firm is now integrating Cytapex with other Dotmatics applications, including the newly acquired Omiq, which specializes in high-throughput analysis.
Dotmatics is not done in the M&A market. "We've made 11 acquisitions, but there's about 30 other swim lanes of software that are used in the R&D ecosystem that we haven't yet built a product or acquired a product in, so we will continue to look for these best-in-class applications that scientists love," Swalla said. "If I'm doing my job correctly, there will be future acquisitions."
He noted that the firm does not have any applications in molecular modeling, digital pathology, image analysis, or spatial transcriptomics, even though customers have been asking for ways to integrate data in those areas.
Other than in flow cytometry, Dotmatics lacks an artificial intelligence product to support drug development. However, the AI field in drug discovery is crowded with hundreds of small companies that are still working to find their footing, according to Swalla, so Dotmatics probably will wait for that market to mature and shake out first.