Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Brief Blog: The Elaborate Websites of Academic Spin-off Laboratories - And What It Means

Academic outreach laboratories - both general reference labs and for genomics - are increasingly either "bought out" by big national labs or spin off as entities that are independent enough for direct investment and funding.

Recent spinouts include OMNISEQ (from Roswell Park Cancer Center), SEMA4 (from Mt Sinai in NYC), and NAVICAN (from Intermoutain.)   An early example of a spinout was CLARITAS GENOMICS, from Boston Children's Hospital.  Claritas was the subject of a Harvard business school case study (here).

SEMA4 has upped the game for website design.

SEMA4 has a very elaborately coded website with active interacting serial feeds from Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and more.   It will be "a partnership of scientists, doctors, engineers and genetic counselors dedicated to empowering healthier living through data."   See the website here.

NAVICAN (which raised $15M on June 1, 2017) promises to "bridge the gap between testing and treatment, because all cancer patients deserve access to the best care."  The Navican Theramap process bridges from sample acquisition, to sequencing, to bioinformatics, to molecular tumor board, to chemotherapy access (trials, payers), to the cancer patient's clinical follow-through.   See the website here.

While OMNISEQ's home page is only middle-elaborate, it gets bonus points for the somewhat dizzying perpetual background video.  They also have a very busy, separately branded and located website with similar infinite-loop video background for its specialty service, Immune Report Card or IRC - here.  

The Point Is...

The main point is not the visual complexity of the websites, but the far-reaching horizons that NAVICAN and SEMA4 envision for their services.   

It's wrong to characterize them as "spin out labs" - at least in the stated vision, they are hoping to create offerings that are both broad and longitudinal in their integrated services for patients.   Lab 2.0 - or maybe they hope to be Lab 3.0 - will be something different than "a lab," in this vision.   

A theme in business schools calls this (e.g. "Lab 3.0") "adjacent innovation," providing a suite of things the customer needs that surround a core product (in this case, sequencing, the suite especially far developed at NAVICAN).  See Harvard Business Review podcast here, book here.


Although it's not a clean fit to this theme, because it's not an academic spinout, Fabric Genomics (formerly Omicia) has a comprehensive website that describes systematic advanced bioinformatics offerings that will fit you whether you are (a) a clinical lab, or (b) a health system, or (c) a nation running national population-health genomic programs.   The next step, I guess, would be (d) providing healthcare on other planets.

For two more academic spinouts, see from Wash U, Pierian Diagnostics, and see also from Columbia University, Darwin Health.  

For an interesting use of a subtly moving and morphing background to a website, see the consultancy Decibio, here.