Making it Work

Biologit co-founders join the dots to screen data for risks

The AI-focused business which covers the pharma, medical devices, cosmetic and animal product sectors is now focused on growth and development

Bruno Ohana and Nicole Baker, founders of Biologit: the company has 14 staff and has raised €3 million to date.Picture: Fergal Phillips

Biologit is a Dublin-based business that screens data for possible risks in products for human or animal use as well as environmental risks. The artificial intelligence (AI)-focused company covers the pharmaceutical, medical devices, cosmetics and animal product sectors amongst others.

The company was founded in 2011 by Nicole Baker and Bruno Ohana. The company has 14 staff and has raised €3 million to date. Both of the co-founders are originally from Brazil but have each been living in Ireland for almost 20 years.

“The system goes through a lot of data. The machine learning model does the screening, finding the relevant data to analyse,” Baker told the Business Post.

The idea for Biologit came from the two co-founders, who are partners, finding a crossover amongst their existing work. Ohana has a PhD in machine learning and working on large data sets while Baker is an immunologist who felt there had to be a better way to manage data.

“I read Bruno’s thesis while he was writing his PhD and I felt we could use what he was working on. It helped to join the dots. He had the knowledge in one area and I had in another and we put it together,” Baker said.

“We are very different in how we think. I’m more about talking and listening to people and their ideas. Bruno is much more mathematical, he thinks about whether it makes sense and if we will make enough money.”

Despite knowing each other well and having a good spread of skills, it was still a risk for the pair to start the company. Baker left a good job in her field to develop this technology.

“I had the most senior role you can have in pharmaceutical vigilance to start this business. I think most people thought I was crazy at the time. Looking back now, it’s the best thing I could have done,” she said.

The move into starting a business was aided by Enterprise Ireland which has provided Biologit with support from early in its development.

“Enterprise Ireland has helped a lot. We started in New Frontiers. From there, we had innovation vouchers and I went to Trinity College Dublin to apply for a commercialisation plan. We moved there to develop the project there at the Adapt centre,” Baker said.

“Straight after that we were qualified as a high potential start-up. They’ve been very supportive of us right from the start.”

The time spent in Trinity was used to develop the product, which first went to market last year. Now with its product a year old, Baker is focused on growth and development.

“It has been quite busy in terms of growing the team. We’re still hiring and looking to at least double the size of the company in the next year. We’ve onboarded clients in clinical research, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals,” she said.

“We plan to be a much bigger company in a year. There are growing pains to go through so we want to make sure everyone working with us is happy and fulfilled.”

This Making it Work article is produced in partnership with Enterprise Ireland.