After nearly a year of trying to spin out a company based on an ADME/tox prediction technology from Lion Bioscience, Rudy Potenzone raised the white flag and looked for another opportunity. That came in the form of Ingenuity Systems, a pathway analysis company based in Mountain View, Calif., where Potenzone began in March as the new senior vice president of business development and strategic planning.
Potenzone’s last post was CEO of Lion’s US operations, and he was also in charge of planning strategy for the whole company. He left Lion at the end of March 2003 with the goal of forming a company from the ADME/tox technology, but “it’s such a miserable time for funding for a software business,” he says. “We had some success and we raised some interest, but not enough to start a company.”
So he called up Jake Leschly, president of Ingenuity, whom he had known for several years through a mutual friend, and found that his background in cheminformatics and his business experience were just what the company was looking for. “They needed someone who could come in at a pretty senior level and prioritize all the business and partnering opportunities,” he says of the five-year-old company that just launched a commercial product late last year.
Ingenuity started out with six founders who entered and won a Stanford entrepreneur business competition, which gave them the seed funding they needed to start the firm in 1998. Ingenuity’s premise was to create a database that would make sense of gene expression data by comparing it to genes, proteins, and marker information found in scientific literature using a proprietary ontology developed by the company’s employees, Potenzone says. “We’ve actually encoded a lot of known pathways into the database,” which can then be used to map new expression data back to the system, he adds.
Ingenuity’s staff spent four years building the tool, and now it’s Potenzone’s job to figure out how to get that technology out to the scientists. A first push using a free two-week Web trial is going well, he reports. In the short term, he’ll focus on pharma researchers in the early phase of discovery, but he says the tool’s genomics and proteomics data has strong potential for preclinical and even clinical users as well.
— Meredith Salisbury