Ousourcing R&D IT

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BASEL, Switzerland—Genedata announced recently a multi-year contract extension for the use of the Genedata Screener lead discovery product suite with Nycomed. Genedata Screener will enable the interdisciplinary teams at all Nycomed sites to rapidly capture, visualize, analyze and manage large volumes of assay data.
BASEL, Switzerland—In late November, discovery informatics company Genedata AG and German pharma Nycomed announced an IT alliance whereby Genedata will help implement and staff a new IT infrastructure for Nycomed's research and development activities. The move comes as both companies look to refocus their efforts: Nycomed to a nimbler, more flexible position in R&D IT that can easily adapt to changing business needs; and Genedata, as it looks to become a bigger player in IT outsourcing for pharmaceutical and biotech companies.

"This is part of the expansion of our business model and reflects a trend in the market," says Dr. Othmar Pfannes, Genedata CEO. "More and more pharmaceutical companies realize that managing IT in-house is quite expensive and that we can provide a solution for highly specialized IT services."

For Nycomed, the deal to move its R&D IT to an outside service provider happened rather quickly, according to Dr. Martin Zoche, Nycomed's senior project manager, support and operations. "We first considered this in March," he says, "and shortly after that, in June, we approached Genedata. "

Zoche is quick to point out that the broader, global IT organization, however, is still in the hands of dedicated Nycomed employees.

As part of the changeover, Nycomed and Genedata have created a team of workers whose first major task is to create a new data structure for the company. In addition, to ensure open and continual communication between the two companies, Genedata has placed 10 employees on site at Nycomed.

"It is very important that they are integrated in our structure," says Zoche. "This way, it is easy for one person to walk over and talk about any problems they are having and for it to be handled quickly by someone here who understands our company."

According to Pfannes, that process will further be facilitated by a number of former Nycomed employees who became Genedata employess and will help manage the transition. "We consider ourselves an IT-focused organization, but these employees bring with them valuable know-how of Nycomed and how the company operates," Pfannes says.

But this isn't merely a semantic move of people shifting. The real savings for Nycomed come from being able to tap Genedata for a wide range of skills—specific skills Nycomed may not need in an everyday, full-time worker.

"One day we may need a system administrator and the next day you need someone who is a database administrator; with Genedata they can provide us with those specific functions only when we need them," says Zoche.

All of this is music to the ears of Pfannes, who is betting that more and more pharmaceutical and biotech companies will look outside their organization to get the highly specialized skills a company like Genedata can bring.

While its business continues to be as a provider of analytical software, Pfannes is focused on getting a greater amount of company revenue from IT services. Currently, Pfannes estimates 20 percent of company revenue is derived from services—a number he expects will jump to nearly 50 percent in the next couple of years.

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