Introducing Vium: The Foundation for Living Informatics

By Peter Hébert and Adam Goulburn


It’s that most simple and provocative question that lays bare systemic dysfunction and inefficiency that has been tolerated for far too long. A question that uncovers something so obvious in retrospect, yet absolutely transformative.

Why do so many drugs fail in clinical trials? Why are we unable to bring more new drugs to market, in shorter periods of time, to save patients’ lives? Why are billions of dollars wasted each year funding scientific results that turn out to be not reproducible?

The answers to these questions carry huge societal impact, representing enormous economic costs and quite literally the difference between life and death. And yet the pharmaceutical industry’s answer to these questions has been: more of the same.

In 2012, biotech giant Amgen tried to replicate 53 landmark scientific studies — turns out only about 10% were reproducible. Life saving drugs are today being developed and commercialized based on this research. This is by any measure a crisis.

The mammoth $150+ billion per year drug discovery and development industry rests upon the shaky foundation of animal models from pre-clinical research. The best practices in today’s vivariums include a technician or a research assistant checking in on animal 2–3 times a day with a clipboard in hand. Animal alive? Check. Dead? Check. Lethargic perhaps? Breeding properly? What else are we missing? What little nuggets of observational gold are found in the wee hours of the morning or during lunch hours when our scientists are pre-occupied? Why can’t we capture that data? Why can’t we analyze it? Why can’t we compare and mine that data for meaningful insights?

There must be a better way.

Introducing Vium

We at Lux are proud to partner with special founders whose dissatisfaction with the status quo drove them to create a new company bringing life sciences into the 21st century. Enter Vium. Founded by Tim Robertson and Joe Betts-Lacroix, Vium is today unveiling itself to the world after three years of intense development in stealth. The company is a unique product of Silicon Valley, boasting an eclectic mix of exceptional team members with backgrounds in biology, pre-clinical research, machine learning and quantum physics. Along with our co-investors (Data Collective, Founders Fund, Dolby Family Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures and several well-known technology entrepreneurs), we share a passion for using advanced technology to improve the human condition.

Vium is introducing the first living informatics approach to transforming preclinical drug research, by applying life sciences, digital technology, and large-scale interpretive methods to living systems. The company’s state-of-the-art digital vivarium allows researchers to design and conduct their studies online — monitoring these studies can be done anytime, anywhere. Clipboards have been replaced by intelligent sensors, video, and high-definition camera networks. Paper records are transformed to vast amounts of digital information transmitted to the Vium Cloud that is immediately quantifiable, shareable and analyzeable. But most important of all, Vium’s low-touch technology driven approach enables both scalability and reproducibility, meaning greater efficiencies in the research scientists carry out and greater dependability that the research is repeatable. The overall result? Higher throughput of life saving drugs in global pipelines and greater confidence that these drugs will be a success.

What you see today is just the beginning.