In March 2017, Amazon invested in GRAIL, a health startup that is researching deep sequencing technology to discover early signs of cancer in the blood. At the time, it was unclear as to why Amazon would be interested in a company like this, given the fact that the tech giant doesn’t normally invest in startups in the life sciences sector.
But a recent article published by CNBC lends insight into why Amazon is taking a bet on GRAIL. According to author Christina Farr, GRAIL is going to need a lot of data processing and storage for its business, which creates a golden opportunity for Amazon’s on-demand cloud service.
According to Reuters, the cloud genomics market is currently only worth about $100 million to $300 million globally. But research analyst Daniel Ives of investment bank FBR Capital believes the market will be worth $1 billion by 2018. That estimation is based off a 2015 report published in the PLoS Biology that found that 100 million to 2 billion human genomics could be sequenced by 2025.
What’s more is that biologists predict the computing capabilities required to process and store all that data will exceed that of Twitter and YouTube.
Zamin Iqbal, who is head of a computational genomics research group at the Euorpean Bioinformatics Institute, believes that investors like Amazon are “positioning themselves for something they think will be big,” adding that the future of genomics is “likely to involve the cloud heavily.“
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