The scientists running Estonia's ambitious national genome project are looking for new sponsors after disputes with venture capitalists have brought it to the brink of stalling.

The aim of the flagship project is to create a database of genetic and health information by collecting phenotypic and genotypic data from one million of Estonia's population of 1.4 million—an objective set down in the law under which the scheme was established.

It ran into trouble in the middle of January when US-based sponsor EGeen, set up in 2000 to finance the project, insisted on a change in strategic direction to focus on researching particular diseases. Estonian-born EGeen chief executive, Kalev Kask, said that research into diseases needed to be given priority because “of economic realities.”

After talks in early April, EGeen agreed to supply funds of €1.6 million to keep the project alive. But a spokesman for the US company told...

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