May 25, 2017

Ovation – Giving Scientists New Ways to Access Data

Located right in between homes on a suburban-like street in Central Square is a startup named Ovation. It’s a stark contrast to the large buildings and corporate offices when compared to most startups in the Boston tech scene.

This week, the company attended BioIT-World, a major trade show in Cambridge dedicated to life science and life science technology.

Barry Wark, Ovation co-founder and CEO
Barry Wark, Ovation co-founder and CEO

Ovation’s co-founders, CEO Barry Wark and CCO Winston Brasor, are two entrepreneurs with a background in, and appreciation for, that particular field. “It’s something we’re very passionate about it,” Wark says. “We love science, we care about the people that study science and we care about the success of the scientific endeavor.”

After receiving his PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Washington, Wark founded a consulting firm helping scientists write and build software. Throughout graduate school and consulting, Wark noticed a particular trend when it came to scientists’ struggles with their data and access to it. “When I was working in research, I noticed scientists were struggling with managing the lifecycle of their data,” Wark remembers. “As well as gaining the full value of their data and the knowledge it produced.”

Wark met Brasor and, with the two’s combined experience and interest in the field, they knew they could create an easier, and more effective, way for scientists to study and gain access to data.

Founded in 2015, Ovation is a SaaS company with a cloud-based data platform helping organizations manage scientific and clinical data. “We are providing better visibility to the story behind the data,” Wark says. “Instead of having a silo or a chunk of data isolated from its creation and its story, we present that data in context.” The platform allows scientists and research firms to look more deeply into the data for a current research project or maybe a major one sometime down the line. Another component of the Ovation platform is the ability to collaborate with one another; there is a built-in communication tool which allows multiple users to look at the data at once.

Ovation screenshow

One global client is the International Genetics & Translational Research in Transplantation Network, or iGeneTRAiN. iGeneTRAiN is an international effort to identify the genetic causes and markers of organ transplant rejection. The group uses Ovation’s platform in order to work with each other efficiently. “Since they are located all over the world, it was difficult to organize conferences with one another,” Wark says. “They told us there were sometimes 45 minute conference calls just to get everyone together.” Since starting with Ovation, the amount of time spent coordinating data and people has fallen dramatically.

Ovation screenshot 2

The company closed its first angel round of investing in 2016; one of their investors is longtime Boston-area angel investor Andy Palmer. However, Ovation is going to begin its first institutional seed round of funding, becoming the first Boston-area portfolio company for StageDotO Investments.

Any organization producing scientific data and hoping to gain insight from it is going to have a ton of data on its backlog. Sometimes, it can be hard for the organization to know what they have, let alone find the right data at the right time. Ovation makes this issue a thing of the past, thanks to its human-focused design and streamlined approach. By making day-to-day scientific collaboration easier and more productive, Ovation is capturing the provenance of data, automatically, so that the organization has access to the full story of its data. “We aren’t the first to notice scientific data is challenging and sometimes disorganized,” Wark says. “We help scientists help them do their job, but you can also help them doing something they didn’t know was possible with our platform.”

Colin Barry is a contributor to VentureFizz. Follow him on Twitter @ColinKrash.

Image courtesy of Ovation