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£6.2M grant share: Female-led health startup to build diverse biomarker database with Innovate UK support

SökerData funding
Picture credits: SökerData

People of European genetic ancestry represent around 80% of people in genome-wide association studies. Considering the differences in outcomes for cancer,  specifically breast cancer, UK-based SökerData recognises the need to increase the representation in studies for better disease characterisation. 

That said, a female-founded digital health startup SökerData’s biomarker database project has been awarded a share of £6.2 million grant from Innovate UK, which backed Cogitat and Aegiq.

As per the company, SökerData’s purpose aligns with Innovate UK’s mission to inspire, involve and invest through outstanding innovation. The project’s key applications include targeted drug discovery, clinical trial design, and market access.

The funding will be used for two main purposes – sourcing and curating biomarkers from existing datasets, and designing the SökerData database architecture.

Bridges gap in clinical trials 

SökerData founder Dr. Elsa Zekeng and CTO Rakia Finley bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the project. Dr. Zekeng has served as European Commission Young leader, and has a strategy consulting from accelerators such as GCHQ-Wayra and insight and strategy agency ClearView Research. On the other hand, Rakia Finley is an exceptional AI and database architect, having previously worked closely with the Obama administration. 

Biomarkers reveal various information about their carriers, including vulnerability to disease, possible reactions to medical treatment, and clinical outcome predictions. Drugs formulated with biomarker selection are given a distinct advantage, being twice as likely to progress beyond the development phase into further testing and consideration for use. SökerData is working to plug a critical data gap in clinical trials by building the world’s most diverse biomarker database. 

SӧkerData founder Dr. Elsa Zekeng said, “SökerData’s mission is to use data to develop insights that increase efficiency, safety and equity in drug discovery and regulatory reporting. We have high hopes that SökerData will play a pivotal role in changing the way that we research, develop and administer treatments for disease including cancer..

SökerData CTO Rakia Finley said, “We are deeply grateful to Innovate UK for recognising the value of SökerData’s work. Despite significant advancements in pharmacology and precision medicine, we are still seeing facets of the global population being left behind the health innovation curve. SökerData seeks to set the tone for pharmaceutical R&D by plugging the gaping hole in the industry’s collective understanding of the ways that treatments work. As we continue to welcome new partners and expertise – including this support from Innovate UK – we hope to achieve that goal.”

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