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DNA Data Storage Technology for a Sustainable Digital Future

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - DATANA (DNA Data Storage Technology for a Sustainable Digital Future)

Reporting period: 2022-05-01 to 2023-04-30

The DATANA project is aimed at developing the “DATANA” DNA Data Writer, a benchtop, patented solution for cost-efficient and fast writing of digital data into DNA. This marks the turning point for the technology of DNA data storage as it aims to bring this technology into everyday use. DNA, the carrier of natural genetic information, offers a promising sustainable solution to digital data storage. As a storage medium, it is incomparably more efficient than any of humanity’s artificial technology, as it can several million times more data per volumetric unit of substance than today's best methods. It also represents an added layer of protection for the world's most valuable data. DATANA enables efficient encoding of digital data into DNA and an affordable and fast synthesis of DNA molecules using our patented data encoding algorithm and our proprietary liquid handling system that scales down the volumes of writing reactions to the picolitre range (one billionth of a milliliter).

The DATANA project aims to provide a sustainable solution for the emerging problem of global data storage capacity and data safety. Traditional data storage media are not suitable to store the exponentially increasing amount of data generated, due to their inherent technical limitations, such as the requirement for space and maintenance. DNA provides a sustainable alternative to traditional storage media, as it allows for vastly more efficient and safer data storage, requiring minimal maintenance to preserve the data for hundreds of years.
The work performed thus far has been in line with the initial project proposal. Technical challenges have been so far overcome successfully though a few important ones remain to be solved.
Unfortunately, due to predominantly external reasons (market conditions, supply chain bottlenecks, COVID-19, war), we experienced substantial delays in several tasks (supply of necessary equipment and materials) and a project extension has been applied for and granted.

In the last reporting period, we have made major progress with R&D and particularly on the commercialization and business development fronts. We attended several conferences and workshops (delegation to Dallas, EEN meeting, EIC Summit, COMPETO workshop) and trade fairs (BIO International 2022, CES 2023) in the previous reporting period, where we showcased our project and technology. We conducted the first case study on commercializing the technology in the digital asset custody market in cooperation with Bitstamp, a leading global crypto exchange. We are in talks with several institutional and private investors and potential customers in the future, including regarding potential additional commercialization case studies. We formed a strong 6-member partnership consisting of 3 universities and 3 SMEs as the basis for an EU DNA Data Storage consortium tackling big data storage and addressing the broader DNA Data Storage process.

Detailed progress on individual tasks and work packages is described in their corresponding intermediate deliverables (see Deliverables, Ethics, DMP, Other Reports tab), as agreed upon with the Project Officer.
Beyond the state of the art, the DATANA project aims at providing DNA as a practical, sustainable, safe and efficient storage medium for the global market for the very first time. It further aims to position DNA as more than "merely" a term associated with genetics and biology and expand its utility to the space of data storage and information technology.

In parallel to the technical progress, we have made great strides on the business development and commercialization front. We have attended several high-level events and fairs and will continue to do so. We have gathered very encouraging feedback and very high interest from different stakeholders, including potential buyers, partners, and investors. We started cooperating with several strong EU academic and industry entities in the genomics/DNA data storage space to advance the EU's presence in the global DNA data storage space.

Furthermore, we have successfully submitted two comprehensive patent applications at the EU level covering the complete DATANA platform with possible extensions (example embodiments) covering applications in peripheral industries to data storage (e.g. biochemistry, pharmacy, bioprinting). Both applications, along with 4 additional example embodiments were under review by the international search report committee. We are optimistic about obtaining a patent and have re-submitted two applications on the PCT level.