NEW YORK, July 30 – Incogen received a $2 million grant from the National Institute for Standards and Technology to develop and implement a homogenous protocol based on XML and web services technology, the company announced.
The grant will be paid out in approximately even increments over a three-year period, and is administered under NIST’s Advanced Technology Program, which is meant to support technology to provide scientists with easy access to various tools used in genomics research.
Funding is contingent upon final signing of the grant agreement, which should occur in about a month, according to Patrick Rhode, a spokesperson for the Department of Commerce, NIST’s parent organization.
“The lack of interoperable tools and data integration has long been a thorn in the sides of both bioinformaticists and biologists,” said Maciek Sasinowski, CEO of Incogen. “We’re quite excited and grateful that an organization like NIST realizes the scope of the challenge and agrees that our proposed approach provides the community with the best attempt to solve that problem.”
Sasinowski called the funding “pretty significant” for Incogen, and said it would support the company’s research for three years.
It “gives us funding without the potential restriction of venture capital,” said Sasinowski, who added that should the company pursue VC funding, the grant would improve Incogen’s bargaining position.
Sasinowksi said the research supported by NIST “will enable people to take advantage of distributed resources on the web.” He said the communications protocol would be available free, and would make it more efficient for companies, including Incogen, to write proprietary tools.
The funds awarded Incogen are part of $60.7 million in funding available from the ATP for first-year funding in 2001.
Incogen, based in Clemson, South Carolina, is active in the Interoperable Informatics Infrastructure Consortium. I3C was proposed in February by Sun Microsystems, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the National Cancer Institute, and several commercial bioinformatics vendors to support an industry-wide effort to develop an open platform for the life sciences. The collaboration currently has 47 participants, including Affymetrix, AP Biotech, DoubleTwist, the European Bioinformatics Institute, Gene Logic, IBM, Incyte, LabBook, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, the National Cancer Institute, Oracle, and the Whitehead Institute.