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Norway's iSentio Expands to Silicon Valley; Reiterates Focus on Boosting Software Sales Globally


By Uduak Grace Thomas

Bergen, Norway-based bioinformatics firm iSentio has set up shop in a new office in Sunnyvale, Calif., and has hired new employees to boost sales of its bacterial identification software.

With the expansion and new hires, the company is making good on an earlier promise to use a $1.5 million financing round to increase its customer base in the US and European clinical markets.

The bulk of the funding, which it raised in December, came from a Norwegian seed capital fund. At the time, Bjarte Karlsen, a co-founder and CEO of the company, told BioInform that the funds “will allow us to strengthen our market presence and address new markets" and "it will also ensure that we have a strong support organization to care for our customer base."

ISentio markets RipSeq, a web-based suite of DNA analysis tools designed to identify bacteria in patient samples. The software is built upon base-calling and database-searching algorithms developed by Karlsen and iSentio's other co-founders, Øyvind Kommedal and Øystein Sæbø (BI 12/17/2010).

In line with the expansion, Camilla Huse Bondesson, iSentio's former sales and mar¬keting director, will now serve as its CEO, taking over from Karlsen, who will now serve as the president of the company and will head up the Silicon Valley office.

Karlsen told BioInform that he initiated the change in positions because iSentio is moving into a "higher growth period" and he is "more comfortable in the role of actually starting up [new] companies" rather than working to grow the larger business in Europe.

Karlsen is joined by new hire Keith Simmon, who has taken on the role of iSentio's senior application scientist. He most recently worked at ARUP laboratories as a research and development scientist.

The company has also hired an account manager for its European clients, bringing its total employee headcount to six. Karlsen said that firm is still hiring to build its sales and support staff in both offices.

The new office will allow the company to provide support to its primarily West Coast-based US clientele. Karlsen noted, however, that the firm's "primary reason" for choosing Sunnyvale was to be close to Life Technologies' headquarters in order to enable better "communication" between the two vendors since RipSeq exclusively analyzes data produced on LifeTech's Sanger-based sequencers.

Karlsen said in a statement that the web-based software "significantly enhance[s] the value of Sanger-based sequencing for microbial detection of pathogens," adding that the firm's US office is "an oppor¬tunity to increase our presence in the rapidly developing sequencing market.”

He said that although Sanger sequencing platforms seem to be relegated to more of a "back-up" role to existing technologies such as culture-based testing, iSentio's mixed sequence analysis software could help "move Sanger-based sequencing up as maybe the first choice for identification of pathogens in clinical samples," which would be a first step toward moving the platform into routine diagnostics.

Currently RipSeq is marketed as a research-use-only tool.

Have topics you'd like to see covered in BioInform? Contact the editor at uthomas [at] genomeweb [.] com.

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