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A Blockchain Genomic Data Start-Up Held Its ICO. 15 Seconds Later, It Had $35M


What made Shivom’s secure genome sequencing so tempting to investors?

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Before Shivom opened its public initial coin offering (ICO), cryptoinvestors took notice of the blockchain-based genomic sequencing start-up. But when the ICO went live earlier this month, they barely had time to notice the sale had begun before it was over.

Shivom’s ICO—the cryptocurrency version of an initial public offering—lasted just 15 seconds, according to a press release. And in that time, the newcomer raised an impressive $35 million, arming it with enough capital to have a real shot at bringing a genuine blockchain use case to healthcare, a feat that has eluded innovators thus far.

Axel Schumacher, PhD, the co-founder and CEO of Shivom, said in a statement that he was pleased his company reached its hard cap so quickly. But the work is just getting started for the hopeful disrupter.

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“Now that we have secured all our funding, Shivom will be able to focus on building a great platform and fostering strong partnerships,” Schumacher added.

Shivom’s ambitions are lofty. It aims to “create the world’s largest genomic data hub,” enabling sequencing and storage of data from patients and genome data donors, according to the start-up. If all goes as planned, the company will build a digital marketplace where pharma, researchers, insurance companies, and other stakeholders can buy and sell data and analytical services.

As is common in the cryptoworld, Shivom considers itself something of a challenge to the status quo. In the release announcing its ICO victory, it rails against the “few key players” who “hold the monopoly on genomic data and make huge profits” selling it to third parties, without payment to donors and sometimes without consent—a problem that industry experts have long acknowledged.

Shivom, on the other hand, touts its decentralized platform as a means of empowering donors and fending off hackers, through the blockchain, smart contracts, and its OmiX token.

The upstart also aims to improve diversity in genomic data, alleging that most public databases consist of DNA from people who can afford to buy testing kits, typically meaning people from North America and western Europe.

“Shivom believes that accurate, comprehensive interpretation of the genome will only be possible when the biomedical community has analyzed enough genome sequences representing the full range of natural human variation,” the organization wrote, preceding a promise to bring its tech to developing nations and other vulnerable populations.

In the run-up to Shivom’s ICO, cryptocurrency observers tagged the company as a potential boon. A popular cryptoblogger, for instance, called Shivom’s ICO one “that really stands out,” noting that the company could prove instrumental in lowering the cost of genome sequencing.

“Certainly, I think this is one of the most promising ICOs I have seen for some time and is one of the few cryptocurrency-related projects I could see still going strong in five or ten years’ time,” the analyst, known as Crypto Dan, wrote, “if they are able to execute their plans successfully, of course.”

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