Financial analytics technology tackles ‘Big Data’ crop research

15 August 2016

The Earlham Institute (EI) has selected Kx Systems (Kx) as their technology partner for a new project which will revolutionise research into bioinformatics and promote a sustainable bioeconomy.

Dr Ji Zhou, Project Leader, and his colleagues at EI are planning to develop and embed the latest machine-learning algorithms, including deep learning techniques in Kx’s platform, to create predictive models for studying crop growth patterns and agricultural tactics. The models will incorporate factors such as environmental stress and crop response, i.e. crop development and adaptation.

For more than 20 years, Kx has been the powerhouse in high-speed, big data analytics in the world’s major financial centres. This expertise will now be used by EI in a completely new approach to the analytical processing of living systems. In an environment where the need to process increasing volumes of data at ever-greater speeds has been failed by the traditional query-response model, Kx will provide real-time active queries for the enormous datasets generated in life sciences.

Dr Tim Stitt, Head of Scientific Computing at EI, commented: “For EI to remain at the forefront of bioscience research it is imperative that we continue to partner with the world’s leading technology providers. I’m therefore delighted to collaborate with Kx, as we continue to explore new technologies for addressing the challenges of ever-increasing data volumes. Leveraging the high-performance data processing capabilities of Kx’s technology, perfected in the financial sector over more than 20 years, makes for a truly exciting and innovative relationship.

To address the challenges presented by the emergence of Big Data in omics (phenomics and genomics), as well as in genetics, stream data processing, and in-memory computing are essential tools for life scientists. Independent tests have confirmed that Kx provides the fastest streaming data architecture, combined with the greatest volume capacity needed to support advanced data management and analyses of multi-dimensional life science datasets.

Brian Conlon, Kx Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are excited to be working with the Earlham Institute on such an innovative project. As organisations are facing the immense challenges of big omics data, we believe that utilising the latest stream-processing and in-memory computing technology from Kx will allow future commercial advantage to be generated from consuming and analysing real-time datasets.”

The UK government has recently reinforced its strategy in agriculture with IoT (Internet of Things) technologies to help maximise yields, improve food traceability, and tackle environmental challenges through networked remote sensors, particularly for crop development and genetic research. This policy change, combined with EI’s long-term strategy of agri-tech and high-performance computing (HPC), demonstrates a valuable opportunity to apply the real-time analytical technology to research genotype-phenotype-environment interactions based on EI’s world-leading HPC infrastructure.

EI is strategically funded by BBSRC and operates a National Capability to promote the application of genomics and bioinformatics to advance bioscience research and innovation.


Notes to editors.

Notes to editors

For more information, please contact:

Hayley London

Marketing & Communications Officer, Earlham Institute (EI)

  • +44 (0)1603 450 107

About Earlham Institute

The Earlham Institute (EI) is a world-leading research institute focusing on the development of genomics and computational biology. EI is based within the Norwich Research Park and is one of eight institutes that receive strategic funding from Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC) - £6.45M in 2015/2016 - as well as support from other research funders. EI operates a National Capability to promote the application of genomics and bioinformatics to advance bioscience research and innovation.

EI offers a state of the art DNA sequencing facility, unique by its operation of multiple complementary technologies for data generation. The Institute is a UK hub for innovative bioinformatics through research, analysis and interpretation of multiple, complex data sets. It hosts one of the largest computing hardware facilities dedicated to life science research in Europe. It is also actively involved in developing novel platforms to provide access to computational tools and processing capacity for multiple academic and industrial users and promoting applications of computational Bioscience. Additionally, the Institute offers a training programme through courses and workshops, and an outreach programme targeting key stakeholders, and wider public audiences through dialogue and science communication activities.

About Kx

Kx is the world leader in high-performance, in-memory computing, streaming analytics and operational intelligence. For more than 20 years the world's largest banks, brokers and regulators have been relying on Kx technology to address the challenges posed by exploding volumes of data, regulatory requirements and the need for ever-faster processing.

With more than 100 major global corporations as clients, Kx works closely with its user group to drive and prioritize its research and development so that it delivers the most innovative software,  tools, solutions and services to solve its customers’ business needs. As the Internet of Things creates never before seen volumes of structured machine data, new industries are embracing Kx technology's proven ability to store and analyze data in real-time.

In the pharmaceutical and life sciences sectors, Kx is helping organizations realize the value that can be derived from their datasets in all areas of their business from research and development to production, sales, and increasingly regulatory reporting.

Kx is a division of First Derivatives plc. (FD). FD is quoted on the London Stock Exchange (FDP:LN) and is a global supplier of software and consulting services. FD has had double-digit revenue growth every year since it was incorporated in 1996.

For more information about Kx please visit For general inquiries, write to


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by Government, BBSRC invested over £509M in world-class bioscience in 2014-15 and is the leading funder of wheat research in the UK (over £100M investment on UK wheat research in the last 10 years). We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

For more information about BBSRC, our science and our impact see: For more information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes see:


About the John Innes Centre

Our mission is to generate knowledge of plants and microbes through innovative research, to train scientists for the future, to apply our knowledge of nature’s diversity to benefit agriculture, the environment, human health and wellbeing, and engage with policy makers and the public.

To achieve these goals we establish pioneering long-term research objectives in plant and microbial science, with a focus on genetics. These objectives include promoting the translation of research through partnerships to develop improved crops and to make new products from microbes and plants for human health and other applications. We also create new approaches, technologies and resources that enable research advances and help industry to make new products. The knowledge, resources and trained researchers we generate help global societies address important challenges including providing sufficient and affordable food, making new products for human health and industrial applications, and developing sustainable bio-based manufacturing.

This provides a fertile environment for training the next generation of plant and microbial scientists, many of whom go on to careers in industry and academia, around the world.

The John Innes Centre is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). In 2014-2015 the John Innes Centre received a total of £36.9 million from the BBSRC.