Informatics superhighway

Agilent, Accelrys announce re-seller agreement that covers breadth of both companies’ informatics products

Chris Anderson
SAN DIEGO—In a deal aimed at providing pharmaceuticalcustomers with an integrated set of informatics tools that stretch from earlydiscovery through manufacturing, Agilent Technologies Inc. and Accelrys Inc.announced a mutual reseller agreement that provides for the licensing andintegration of the breadth of informatics products offered by each company.

The result, officials at both companies say, is a powerfulcombination of two of the leading informatics companies in the business, bothworking under a similar business model that could provide pharmaceuticalcompanies with an integrated informatics offering across the discovery anddevelopment continuum.

"There is not a great deal of overlap in the products wesell or the markets we serve," says BillTaylor, vice president of marketing for Accelrys. "Agilent's products arefocused in QA/QC and manufacturing and [our] expertise is in research, datamanagement and early development. Our approach to the market is to providepre-integrated solutions to researchers that, at their core, are open platformsthat allow researchers to chose the technology they want and not burden themwith the task of integrating different informatics products."

According to Francois Mandeville, M&A partnershipbusiness manager with Agilent, the deal came together over the course of ninemonths and was driven by three separate "threads".

First, was an extended discussion at an industry trade eventbetween Agilent CTO Darlene Soloman and Accelrys President and CEO Mark Emkjer.This resulted in a deeper technology discussion between the two companiesthrough which it became apparent how compatible the companies were based ontheir philosophies and complementary product portfolios.

Second, prior to this agreement, the companies had each madestrategic decisions to make their software and technologies "open" to allow foreasier integration of software from other providers in an effort allowcustomers flexibility in the informatics tools they choose.

The third thread, and in many ways the icing on the cake fora deal that seemed inevitable, was Agilent's June acquisition of Frenchelectronic lab notebook (ELN) company Kalabie. This deal made Agilent andAccelrys collaborators for this first time, as Kalabie had built its ELNfunctionality on top of Accerys' Accord cheminformatics platform.

Specifically, the deal ties together Agilent's OpenLAB enterprisecontent manger, Kalabie ELN and GeneSpring software, with Accelrys' operatingplatforms, Accord and the Pipeline Pilot sold under its SciTegic division.

While the customer lists of Agilent and Accelrys containmany of the same pharma and biotech customers, there is very little overlap indirect contacts since the products are targeted at different areas of thediscovery and development pipeline. But Mandeville doesn't see this as aproblem in bringing the broader solution to market, though it may take time anda grassroots approach.

"Throughout the discovery activity what you have are aseries of islands of automation and typically what you see are lab leaders inany one of these islands seeking a solution for a team of 15 to 20 people," hesays.  "Since the fundamental tenet oflife science discovery is to connect the dots, what we do is allow for thecontinuation of the autonomous islands but also give them a tool to providetheir information and access to information from other islands across theenterprise."

Further, Taylornotes, the commitment to open architecture also allows scientists to continuingworking with both tools and software they are comfortable using, even thosethat are not from Agilent or Accelrys.

"If you look at OpenLAB, Agilent provides scientist with thebroadest set of interfaces to instruments other than their own," he says. "Andthe same is true of what Accelrys has done with our SciTegic ISV program. Ourcustomers don't want platforms that are proprietary. They want to spend moretime on their research and less time integrating their data."
 

Chris Anderson

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