NBIC FTMA Innovation Placement: YouSeq and Next Generation Sequencing

Dr Chris Winnard secured an NBIC FTMA Innovation Placement, which are targeted at PhD students who have just submitted their thesis and wish to undertake placements within a business environment.

Here’s what YouSeq had to say about Chris’s time on the placement.


Chris joined YouSeq on a NBIC funded Innovation Placement from the summer of 2019 through to Christmas. Chris was tasked with taking a prototype idea through to commercial product launch. The product is a next generation sequencing (NGS) kit for identifying bacteria in a mixed population. A method known as 16S sequencing. The kit is based on a method for sequencing (reading) a region of the bacterial genome known as the 16 rRNA and then identifying which bacteria are present based on this genomic information. Although such technology exists already the workflows are cumbersome and require long, highly skilled hours on the bench-side. The new product that Chris has been working on transforms that complex workflow in to a very simple closed-tube system that any technician can perform with ease.


Outcomes and Impact

The outcome has been a successful product launch. Chris has been successful in taking the prototype product, identifying final issues and implement improvements to make the kit robust for commercial use. He has performed detailed studies on sensitivity and specificity and produced good quality data to satisfy the company’s quality standards as well as for use in marketing purposes. Chris has also been involved in various marketing related tasks associated with product launch including developing the product instructions-for-use further as well as website and printed marketing content. Chris has also been involved in the beta version of product launch with trials of the kit occurring in the US, South Africa, Portugal and the UK. Chris also took part in commercial and technical discussions with the company’s first significant customer for the product signing an agreement with YouSeq this week.


What’s next?

Chris will complete his project in early January 2020 and then join Novagene – a global NGS service provider with new facilities opening in Cambridge. Although Chris’ tenacity and talent will be greatly missed by YouSeq we believe that the experience he has gained in his time with us has built excellent commercial experience for him that has helped him find full-time employment and will stand him in good stead at the start of his career. YouSeq will continue with the launch and sales and marketing drive for the product with great hopes for significant commercial success that will bring further income and employment to the local community. We believe that the product that Chris has worked on will be a powerful research tool for the Biofilm research community globally.

Dr Chris Winnard and Dr Jim Wicks (YouSeq CEO) presenting at NBIC’S Networking Event at the University of Southampton, January 2020.