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Oracle Ties the Knot on Long-Term Relationship with Life Sciences

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 6 - Oracle had a coming out party of sorts on Wednesday: It announced its dedication to focus more of its resources on capturing the life sciences market.


"Life sciences is special," Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said during a luncheon and series of talks at the OpenWorld conference here, which Oracle organized. "I think it will become the next big thing. The rate of discovery in my industry has gone down. [But] it's radically different in the life sciences industry where horizons are wide open. [There's] lots of new companies and new products. For very cold-hearted reasons we've decided to focus on life sciences."


This proclamation was intended formally to announce the creation of Oracle's very own life sciences division.


According to Jon Simmons, vice president of the new unit, Oracle, despite being one of the world's largest genomic and proteomic databases, has until recently been involved in life sciences "in stealth mode." In the future, and over the next six months in particular, the company plans to build alliances with undisclosed biotechnology companies as it works to continue developing its life sciences-specific products, which include SNP-processing tools, and market its 9i database and application server for life-science discovery.


But Ellison's announcement here was less a declaration than a market strategy the company has been embracing quietly for some eight years as it customized databases for industries, including the life sciences sector. Through this new division, founded in August, Oracle will be tailoring products for life sciences to help meet the tremendous rise in data while putting greater emphasis on marketing its human resources, accounting, and other "backroom-oriented" products to the company as well as government and academia. All this, said Ellison, is designed to help "scientists … focus on good science" rather than administrative tasks.


"What Oracle became very good at over the last few years is dominating emerging markets," said Simmons. "Everything we've done in the dot-com space lends itself to life sciences. The legacy of the web is at the forefront of the life sciences industry today. We have taken our skill-set and focused it on this market. It's very easy for us to turn the Oracle ship to dominate this marketplace."

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