Belfast healthtech start-up Overwatch Research acquired by US firm

Chris Armstrong (centre) with fellow Overwatch Research founders Graham and Paul Wilsdon.

BELFAST healthtech start-up Overwatch Research has been bought by San Francisco-based R&D cloud software company Benchling.

Used by pharmaceutical firms, Overwatch's software reduces errors in the logging preclinical research data.

Benchling said it acquired the Belfast firm, valued at an estimated $14.5 million (£10.8m), to advance its work in the biotech sector.

The Californian company's ‘R&D Cloud' software is used by around 200,000 scientists at over 700 companies and 7,000 research institutions globally.

Set up in 2017 by Queen's University scientist Chris Armstrong and brothers Graham and Paul Wilsdon, Overwatch set out to reduce the high failure rate of clinical trials in the pharmaceutical industry, largely thought to be caused by poor quality preclinical data.

It was initially backed by £400,000 in seed capital from Techstart Ventures. Its presence in the US was accelerated in October 2021 after it closed $3.5m (£2.6m) in seed funding, with Techstart pumping in another £350,000.

Co-founder and chief executive Chris Armstrong said by combining the capabilities of his firm and Benchling “we'll be able to reach more scientists and help them turn initial research findings into life-saving products”.

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