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Success story article22 August 2022

Storing all the world's data in one litre of DNA solution

Team meeting at Biosistemika, Slovenia

Slovenian company BioSistemika worked with the Enterprise Europe Network to prepare for the EIC Accelerator call for proposals and succeeded in receiving a grant of €1.8 million from the European Commission.

BioSistemika presented the DATANA project to industry and the broader public for the first time in San Diego at the Bio International 2022 Convention in June this year. The response was excellent, and there was a lot of interest from potential users and customers, as well as development partners and investors.

BioSistemika was set up as a spin-off of the Slovene National Institute of Biology. The company is active in software development and biotechnology. Their potential global project, DATANA, has been supported by the European Commission through the expertise of the Enterprise Europe Network and the funding under the EIC Accelerator proposal call.

The DATANA technology provides a sustainable solution to the global challenge of long-term data storage and archiving. Current data storage servers are far from meeting this challenge, with current forecasts suggesting that by 2025 we will only be able to store 20% of the data we produce daily. Servers also consume vast amounts of electricity and already have as many emissions as the aviation industry. The DATANA project will use its patented algorithm and device to work with small volumes of liquids to store binary data as a DNA molecule. A DNA molecule can store several million times more information per volume than conventional data storage media. To put this into perspective: this technology allows us to keep all the data in the world in one litre of DNA solution.  

The European Commission’s support and funding has been key to developing the technology

The research and development phase is costly, but such projects are also hazardous, and without funding, a company like BioSistemika would not be able to afford it. The total value of the DATANA project was estimated at over €2.6 million. The European Commission funded 70% of this, and BioSistemika covered the rest from its own resources.

During the application process, the company contacted Dr Igor Milek, an Enterprise Europe Network adviser at the Slovenian Network branch and national contact point for the EIC Accelerator programme, who helped them with advice on interpreting the tender conditions and by pointing them in the right direction. Before the actual interview and the presentation of the application in front of the expert panel in Brussels, several actions were carried out with the Network expert, including the design of an advisory plan and the presentation rehearsals to prepare the company for the interview stage. All these activities, exercises and advice were essential for the final success.    

Always on the hunt for partners with complementary skills and a similar vision

The company regularly monitors new calls for tenders, as these are of great importance for a high-tech development company, providing funding for developing new or improved products.

Although the €1.8 million they will receive from the European Commission for the DATANA project may sound like a lot, it is far from enough to break into the market. In parallel, they are already looking for additional sources of funding and investment.

They are currently applying for a European call for proposals, which is complementary to the DATANA project and could further help them to disrupt the market successfully. They are again working with Enterprise Europe Network advisors to find international partners and are in regular contact with them about their current needs.

"For companies like ours, support programmes like the Enterprise Europe Network can be a real asset, and I think they work very well in Slovenia. In recent years, they have made great strides in supporting businesses. Even before submitting the DATANA project to the call for proposals, we have received  some useful guidance from the Network, and it all came together in the end to form a success story," says Roswita Golčer Hrastnik, CEO of BioSistemika.

DATANA will continue on its independent path

During the first year of the DATANA project, several new promising research and development areas have already opened up and the goal is to develop further. 

"Above all, we want the DATANA project to be a success and to offer the world a solution that will make a real contribution to solving global problems in the field of data storage," explains the CEO, adding that the plan is to raise funds for additional research and development and, at the right time, to take DATANA on its path as a "spin-off" company in cooperation with a suitable investor. BioSistemika will continue on its primary path of developing digital solutions for laboratories and further develop new ideas for future breakthrough projects.