Collaborating with scientists on computational science in a cloud environment is a must, on the road to the significant breakthroughs we see today. But in practice, scientists are forced to invest a lot of time in operating the cloud environment in everything related to accessing big data, picking up and downloading computing machines, dealing with software requirements, saving renditions and more. Israeli startup Code Ocean thinks it has the solution to this problem and yesterday (Wednesday) it announced a new investment it received from Microsoft.
Problem with collaboration between researchers
The idea for establishing Code Ocean came after Simon Adar’s (one of the founders) doctorate experience at Tel Aviv University; there he collaborated with the German Space Agency and research laboratories in Europe. "A central part of the project was the collaboration needed between the various centers," says Adar. "Every research laboratory was a leader in its field. Some were world leaders in computational learning, some in geological models, some in geometric computation, etc. But we were not really able to transfer the computational infrastructure from one laboratory to another to be used by all involved quickly and easily. In actuality, each laboratory worked mainly in isolation. The collaboration was essentially limited to just compiling various chapters into one document." But Code Ocean has a solution: to develop an infrastructure for computational science that can be easily shared with a link, regardless of the size of the information, how complex the environment is in terms of installed software requirements and how much computational power is required.
In a conversation with Geektime, Simon Adar, co-founder, and CEO of the company, says that the company chose to do this with the help of a container expansion Docker. This is a new container for computational science, which contains everything you need to reproduce scientific experiments using computing. The code, information, and computational environment. "The technology is called a Compute Capsule and it contains the code, information, and computational environment. The technology allows the scientist to concentrate on the scientific work itself and not on everything that surrounds the operation of the cloud environment."
The Code Ocean platform operates on two levels: the first is for the private use of companies and research institutes; the second is for the public– it features 2,500 public research capsules available in open source where researchers share knowledge with the global community. The company says that biopharma companies such as Sema4, Lantern, Champions Oncology, CytoReason, Dragonfly Therapeutics are already using its product.
Today, scientists and researchers can use open-source languages and tools such as Jupyter Notebook or RStudio. What makes Code Ocean stand out?
"This connection requires a lot of development or manual operations that are too complicated for a scientist. They are very frustrating and time-consuming. Most scientists do not have the skills or desire to deal with these details. Code Ocean is the first virtual laboratory for computational science. Our company has a product that is open and free to the scientific community and is connected to famous scientific outlets like Nature and Enterprise– for companies with research departments. Today, we are very focused on the biotech world that deals with large genomics information analysis."
Code Ocean was founded by Simon Adar (CEO), and Ram Dayan (VP of Technology– who has already sold a company to Harman (now Samsung). It employs 35 people, most of them at the development center in Tel Aviv. The current $16.5 million round of funding was led by Microsoft's M12 fund and Battery Ventures and puts the company's total capital raised to date at $37.5 million.