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Walter Sanseverino Sequentia Biotech
Walter Sanseverino

Co-founder and CEO of Sequentia Biotech

He has a PhD in Genomics and spent more than ten years doing research in biotechnology and genetics, with over 35 papers published in high-impact scientific journals. In 2013, he founded Sequentia with Riccardo Aiese Cigliano and currently balances his position at the helm of the company with teaching, giving classes in genomics at universities in Spain (UAB and UPF) and Italy (Sapienza, in Roma, and Federico II, in Naples). He is a councilor for the Italian Society of Agricultural Genetics (SIGA) and works to promote proper use of green biotechnology.

Walter Sanseverino: "Scientists demonize money, but it is a tool for achieving social impact"

04.10.2018

Sequentia Biotech provides bioinformatics solutions for the genomics sector and other omic sciences. It does this in two ways. Firstly, through specialized consultancy in genetics, informatics and the life sciences. And the other, by developing software on the cloud so researchers can do their own data analyses quickly and effectively. The company's mission is to democratize bioinformatics to access genetic knowledge in a disruptive manner, resolving issues in human health, food quality and the environment. Walter Sanseverino, co-founder and CEO of Sequentia, discusses the company's history and their expectations for the coming years.

Why did you want to be an entrepreneur?

While I was studying biotechnology, I became aware of the huge potential of this discipline. Year after year, the idea ripened in my mind that people with good ideas can become entrepreneurs and push society forward, contributing knowledge and new tools to improve our wellbeing. Plus, when I was doing research, although I was very passionate about science, I had a strong sensation pushing me to find a new challenge in my career. When I finished writing up the business plan for Sequentia, I understood that is where my new career path lay. We all have to strive for a better society and this is my contribution.

 

What is the most important strategic decision you’ve made so far?

Sequentia started out as a scientific consultancy company and, two years ago, we realized that, in order to make a great leap forward in terms of turnover, internationalization, etc., we would have to start creating products, too. We saw that the bioinformatics software on offer was growing, but none of it was really designed with the end-user in mind. We have a very close relationship with our clients and we know that, as much as possible, researchers want to do their own data analysis. However, in most cases, they spend more time trying to understand how the tool works than analyzing their own results. We've launched two programs on the cloud in two years and they have been very successful, so we're really happy with our decision.

 

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

One of the characteristics for doing this job right is the ability to listen and learn from others. Over the course of my career, I've met many people who have given me great, useful advice. One of them changed not only my work but also, in some aspects, my life. Sequentia was created as a social start-up with the main aim of carrying out projects with a high degree of social impact, with revenue being less of a priority. While I was being mentored, someone told me that you can be successful using money as a tool, without demonizing it. This is common among people with a background in science, who see scientific success as the only goal. This advice led me to change my strategic vision and, thanks to that, we've increased turnover and opened the doors to new sources of funding, allowing ourselves not only to bring in larger clients and more interesting projects, but also to expand the company and set up a more productive R&D department.

 

And now what? What milestones do you want to achieve in the short term?

Right now, we're finishing our new cloud platform to analyze and interpret omics data in a whole new way, using new bioinformatics tools and artificial intelligence. This platform gives us a much deeper understanding of the data. In the meantime, we're kicking off our strategic and financial plan to distribute our products throughout Europe. Within two years, we hope to lead the European bioinformatics software market, helping scientists and private companies make the most of their genetic data quickly and with the best results.