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San Francisco-based Benchling offers DNA editing software for biotech labs, researchers

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February 21
9:03 AM 2014

Benchling is one of the few startups in San Francisco that have linked biotechnology and computer science with its DNA editing and analysis software, TechCrunch reported.

YCombinator, SV Angel, Founders Fund, Draper Associates and other angel investors have supported the startup with an investment of around $900,000. The whole Benchling team possesses computer science and biology skills and all come from MIT. Their modern software intends to take on the companies that offer older and more bulky software offers for the biotechnology segment. Benchling engineers have also worked with tech giants like Twitter, Palantir, Google and Facebook before, the report said.

Benchling CEO Sajith Wickramasekara told TechCrunch, "The quality of software is holding back innovation in life sciences. In bio software, the people who code it are disconnected from the work that's actually being done. So it ends up being crap." He also cited that the use of Excel spreadsheets or email as a collaboration tool among researchers is tedious, the report said.

Benchling's offer for now may only be DNA editing software. However, they ultimately want to develop a life science-focused app store. Wickramasekara said, "We imagine a lab where all the hardware will talk directly to Benchling's platform. So that when scientists carry out experiments, they won't need to write anything down, which would cause errors."

There are already around 2,000 academics and 10 for-profit firms using Benchling. While academic researchers get to use the platform for free, enterprises pay anywhere from $50 to $100 per person. So far, Benchling is being used by researchers to come up with new antibiotics, enable yeast to produce petrochemicals minus the oil and do calculations with bacteria, the report said.

Benchling is not the only startup focused on this space. Transcriptic is another startup that aims to become the "Amazon Webs Services" for the life sciences. It's not entirely the same as Benchling, though, since it uses a "software and robot-enabled remote lab" to undertake studies for other researchers, TechCrunch reported.

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