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Think Big. Move Fast.

What does “big data” mean to you? When most of us hear the term, we immediately think about mainstream use cases that leverage smarter data sets to assist companies in making better decisions that optimize business operations, improve enterprise application performance, and even create apps for children to foster more engaged and successful learning. At Lightspeed, we are working with a number of companies that are disrupting their target markets by harnessing the power of big data such as EdgeSpring, Bloomreach, Origami Logic, Click Security, Boundary Networks, Datastax, MapR and Qubole, and we believe that big data will continue to evolve in the coming years to solve an even broader array of market challenges – including problems associated with human health.

One such company, Natera, is a good example of a startup that has brought together doctors, geneticists, statisticians, data scientists and software engineers to leverage both big data and genetics for the improvement pre-natal health.

By combining the power of big data computation and algorithms with world-class genomic science, Natera provides expectant mothers and doctors with information that can improve their chances of having a healthy child.

Natera announced today that it closed $54.6 million in financing to support expansion and continued global rollout of its non-invasive pre-natal test, Panorama™. This new test leverages the power of science and big data to discover chromosomal abnormalities through analysis of a drop of blood from the mother-to-be, eliminating the risk associated with older techniques like amniocentesis and ionic villus sampling, which can lead to complications such as miscarriage. Panorama holds the possibility of reducing and ultimately obviating the need for many of today’s high-risk pre-natal procedures.

From the very beginning of our partnership with Natera, we’ve recognized that they’re poised to completely disrupt the pre-natal genetic testing market while positively benefitting expectant mothers and doctors. The opportunity for Natera to improve lives through cutting edge computer science and big data is a bold proposition, and one that touches many of us personally. In the past, doctors have had to wait until the second or third trimester to conduct many pre-natal tests. By this time, the risk is much higher and the options are far more limited. Natera is completely changing that model by enabling physicians to uncover highly accurate clinical information and data through a simple blood draw as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

Lightspeed would like to congratulate the entire Natera team on their bold vision and tremendous success to date. We look forward to our ongoing shared journey as Natera continues to transform the way the world conducts pre-natal genetic testing with the combined power of science and big data.

Follow Ravi on Twitter @RMTacct