Helix acquires Denver-based HumanCode, plans to open local office

by April Bohnert
June 29, 2018
Helix DNA-sequencing acquires HumanCode Denver Colorado biotech
Photo via Helix.

Personal genomics services have exploded in popularity in recent years, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars in funding and expanding their services beyond family trees to give people insights into health, fitness, diet and even the genetic possibilities of their future children.

In its mission to further differentiate itself as a leader in the personal genomics industry, Bay Area-based Helix announced yesterday that it plans to acquire Denver startup HumanCode, as well as open up a Denver office of its own.

HumanCode, a long-time partner with Helix, develops mobile and machine learning applications for DNA sequencing. Within four months of its February 2017 founding, the company made waves with a $3 million funding, and in the months since has launched two major products, both of which can be found on the Helix marketplace.

The acquisition marks a deepening relationship between the companies, as Helix brings the entire HumanCode team under its wing. HumanCode co-founder and CEO Christopher Glode has been named the new chief product officer at Helix. He and his Denver-based team will work to enhance Helix’s end-to-end customer experience and increase support for its growing ecosystem of product development partners.

The acquisition also marks Helix’s larger plans to break into the Denver tech talent pool.

We are gaining valuable talent in priority, high-demand areas like engineering and product design and are getting the benefit of an integrated team.”

“We are gaining valuable talent in priority, high-demand areas like engineering and product design and are getting the benefit of an integrated team that has deep experience working together to build engaging consumer experiences in digital health,” said Helix CEO Robin Thurston in a statement. “The entire HumanCode team has done a tremendous job creating engaging DNA-powered products for the Helix platform. We are very excited for what this means for Helix and for our partners.”

The company plans to expand its development team in Denver, though it is still unclear exactly how many people it plans to add.

Helix has set itself apart in the market with its proprietary Exome+ assay, which sequences a customer’s protein-coding genes as well as additional information-rich areas identified by Helix’s scientific team. According to the company, its test yields 100 times more data than the arrays used by other consumer-based genomics companies. Its marketplace of third-party DNA-sequencing apps then enables users to unlock targeted insights into their genetics.

Both Governor John Hickenlooper and Mayor Michael B. Hancock welcomed the biotech startup to the Denver tech community yesterday, citing the city’s growing pool of talent and “culture of innovation and entrepreneurship” as a determining factor in yet another Bay Area company’s decision to set roots in the Mile High City.

“Science and technology continue to transform public health and wellness. In a health-conscious and tech-savvy state like Colorado, that means a vibrant bioscience industry empowering us to achieve our full health potential,” said Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper in the statement. “Helix’s acquisition of HumanCode is a validation of bio-health innovation that originated right here in Colorado. Their long-term commitment to the market shows our value as a true innovation hub.”

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