On January 11, 2020, the Broad Institute, Verily Life Sciences, and Microsoft announced a strategic partnership to accelerate biomedical innovations through the Terra platform.

Terra was originally developed by the Broad Institute and Verily, and is a cloud-native platform for researchers to access data, run analysis tools, and collaborate.  The platform connects thousands of researchers with each other and to the datasets gathered from nearly 2 million study participants, including data of cancer genomics, infectious disease projects, medical and population genetics, and single cell transcriptomes.  The mission of Terra is to enable the next generation of collaborative biomedical research by building an open platform that connects researchers to each other and to the datasets and tools they need to achieve scientific breakthroughs.

Now, Microsoft has joined the Broad Institute and Verily as an equal partner in Terra’s operation and development.  The partnership will extend Terra’s bioinformatics analysis platform to the Microsoft Azure cloud.  Building on the open-source foundation of Terra, the collaboration will bring together Microsoft’s cloud, data, and AI technologies, as well as a global network of more than 168,000 health and life sciences partners to the Terra platform.

The new version of Terra platform will steer potentially life-changing research away from closed silos and into shared forums free from fragmented policies and approaches to leveraging research data.  With the upgraded Terra platform, the three companies aim to advance the ability of data scientists, biomedical researchers, and clinicians around the world to collaborate in tackling complex and widespread diseases.

The partnership will expand the biomedical data ecosystem and provide new opportunities for startup and emerging companies, especially those in positions to exploit large amounts of data in their R&D.  In particular, startup companies founded by university researchers are natural fits for the Terra platform given the ability to access, share, and scale computing resources on a cloud platform.  The expanded cloud platform and advanced technologies will empower early-stage companies to scale their data analysis in a more cost-effective manner.  Also, the companies can connect with thousands of health and life sciences organizations globally on the new platform, which will be a powerful channel to build partnerships with leaders in the field.

Related report: Microsoft News