Recently, several articles have focused on the need for flexible, scalable approaches to bioinformatics provision in smaller research institutes and university departments1, 2, 3. As a small institute of around 80 researchers, the Sainsbury Laboratory (Norwich, UK) has been working for the past four years to adapt to the influx of big data sets from high-throughput approaches. In that time, we have successfully transitioned from a 'top-down' model of bioinformatics provision to a 'bottom up' model that incorporates several features discussed in recent articles1, 2, 3. As a result, we have sped up the analysis cycle and can now handle increasing workloads in a timely, productive manner with a modest core support team. Here we provide a description of how we achieved this upgrade in the hope that our experience will prove useful for other small institutions seeking to address the informatics challenges posed by large-scale biological research approaches.