Code Ocean brings SaaS to computational-research labs, raises $16.5M | VentureBeat

Science, at its very core, is collaborative.

The essence of scientific work is building upon other science – think of all the research and discovery that would never have occurred otherwise.

Still, scientists, just like other professionals, can work in silos. Their jobs are complex, circuitous, time-consuming, often messy, even more often repetitive. And while the value of AI and machine learning (ML) are by now undisputed, the accumulated data is more than can ever possibly be humanly analyzed.

Code Ocean strives to help scientists get back to the basics – for themselves and humanity. The company developed what it calls the first-of-its-kind, computational-research laboratory SaaS platform for scientific collaboration and discovery. The technology enables scientists across disciplines to standardize workflows and track and reproduce computations and discoveries.

“The preface of this project was collaboration,” said Simon Adar, CEO and cofounder of the Cornell Tech-incubated company, which today announced a $16.5 million series B funding round.

Accelerating biomarker discovery

The “essential triplet” of any computational research work is code, data and results. According to Adar, Code Ocean’s core is its trademarked Compute Capsule, a container technology that encapsulates reproducible, archival and executable versions of experiments, thus combining that essential triplet.

The easy-to-use automated lab allows researchers to reproduce, reuse and share computational experiments. The capsule also helps to ensure that experiments can be preserved and reused in current and future research, Adar explained.

“It democratizes computational science, providing researchers the freedom to explore various types of scientific questions,” he said.

In the case of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, that enduring question has been around biomarkers.

These biological molecules are critical in drug discovery, explained Princess Margaret senior scientist Benjamin Haibe-Kains. But there are many ways to suppress a gene, so the delicate balance is finding chemical ingredients that kill cancer without negatively impacting normal cells. And that in the greatest number of people possible.

Because cancer and the human body are both extremely complex, it is rare that one chemical will help treat cancer in everyone. For instance, a certain chemical may work in just 10% of a population. Researchers are constantly analyzing this to find the best home treatments, Haibe-Kains explained.

“There’s a lot of heterogeneity,” said Haibe-Kains, who is also associate professor in the medical biophysics department at the University of Toronto. “Each cancer is very much unique.”