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Incogen to Make Software Toolkit Free for Academic Use

BOSTON, Oct. 4 - Williamsburg, Va.-based Incogen is donating the latest release of its VIBE workflow management software to several academic research groups, company representatives told GenomeWeb today.


The company, unveiling a new software developer kit for its VIBE (Visual Integrated Bioinformatics Environment) at the GSAC meeting here, said it intends to make the product, called VIBE SDK, freely available to academic researchers.


Dawn Cannan, who leads Incogen's quality assurance team, said the new software was developed in response to customer requests to plug third-party and proprietary applications into the VIBE workflow environment. The software enables the construction of reusable analysis pipelines via a drag-and-drop interface and comes with a suite of tools optimized for the framework. VIBE SDK offers an open application programming interface to broaden the set of tools that can be included in the analysis pipeline.


Cannan said that the free academic version of VIBE SDK would offer the same pipelining capabilities of the commercial version, but would not include the company's sequence analysis software.  


Incogen is donating VIBE SDK to the North Carolina BioGrid project, academic partners of the Sun Centers of Excellence initiative, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Duke University. Under the offer, the software will be installed in phases and distributed using Sun ONE Grid Engine software.  


While acknowledging that there are obvious risks involved in giving away the company's tools, "There's a method to our madness," noted Lou DeSimone, director of marketing and sales at Incogen. The company is "proud to be able to give something back to academia," but there are other benefits to making the software freely available to the academic community, he said.


For example, distributing the software to a broader user base will familiarize more researchers with the company's products. "A lot of academic researchers end up in industry," he said. "It will help us if they remember that they used some good software from Incogen when they were in academia."