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Accelerator Wars

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When Celera Genomics acquired Paracel this summer for more than $250 million, some in the industry speculated that the bioinformatics-accelerator vendor would lose customers. Leading the chorus, not surprisingly, was Jim Lindelien, president of Paracel’s main rival Time Logic. Would pharmaceutical, genomics companies, and public sequencing labs suddenly see Paracel’s GeneMatcher machine as enemy equipment?

Paracel’s founder and general manager, Kwang-I Yu, says that was wishful thinking on Lindelien’s part. Since the close of the Celera buyout on June 9, Yu says he has sold GeneMatchers to AstraZeneca, MWG Biotech, Novartis, Takara, and Stanford University. Asked if he worries about losing the loyalty of customers such as the Sanger Centre, whose directors have made known their distaste for Celera’s style, Yu says not at all, noting that Ewan Birney is on Paracel’s scientific advisory board. (Birney coordinates the Sanger Centre-European Bioinformatics Institute joint human-genome annotation project, EnSEMBL).

To make matters simpler, Compugen, the other main maker of accelerator hardware, has lost interest in the space. Says Eli Mintz, president. “It’s not as if we’re leaving the business, but we don’t see it as having significant growth potential. It’s part of our history now.”

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