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Dassault Systemes, Accelrys Merger to Yield More Complete Solutions for Life Sciences R&D

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By combining products as part of a merger agreement announced this week, Dassault Systèmes and Accelrys will be able to provide a more complete infrastructure to support their life science customers' development processes from early discovery through to manufacturing, according to Leif Pedersen, Accelrys' senior vice president.

In the first informatics acquisition of the year, French software firm Dassault Systèmes made an all-cash tender offer to buy Accelrys' shares for $750 million at $12.50 per share in a transaction that is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2014. All of the company's employees, including its management team, will join Dassault Systèmes staff. President and CEO Max Carnecchia is being retained and will have a key leadership role in the Accelrys business. Accelrys currently has 160 employees in its San Diego headquarters and an additional 456 work in offices in other US locations and abroad.

Over the next several months, Pedersen told BioInform, the companies will begin crafting a detailed roadmap to combine tools from their portfolios into new products for the market. It's too early to say which specific tools might become part of an integrated solution or what sort of products might come out of these efforts but the companies will be taking into account feedback from conversations with shared and separate life science customers in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and petrochemical industries. According to Pederson, these customers are demanding more enterprise-level platforms to support research and development rather than the "fragmented" solutions that some vendors have traditionally sold.

Accelrys products provide customers with tools to, for example, model and analyze data; manage laboratory activities, samples, and data; and do quality control, while Dassault Systèmes offers software to manage the different stages of product lifecycles as well as platforms for collaboration. Once the companies merge, "we have … the opportunity to really deliver a set of applications and services" that provides a technology value that "no other software vendor can provide today," Pederson said.

For now, Accelrys will continue to provide the same software that current customers such as Sanofi, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, and the German Cancer Research Center are accustomed to receiving and will continue updating these solutions based on its existing product development roadmap. The company markets an enterprise platform that provides solutions for a variety of life science applications including software for workflow and automation, modeling and simulation, enterprise lab management, and data management and informatics. Products in those categories include Pipeline Pilot, a scientific workflow authoring application; Accelrys Electronic Laboratory Notebooks; and Accelrys Discovery Studio, the company's modeling and simulations platform.

Its portfolio also includes intellectual property acquired from Qumas, a provider of cloud-based and on-premise enterprise compliance software for regulated industries that Accelrys bought for $50 million last December; and from Vialis, a systems integration firm it bought for $10 million in January 2013. In 2012, the company bought VelQuest, a developer of laboratory execution systems for regulated industries, for $35 million, and also purchased Scynexis' web-based Hit Explorer Operating System, or HEOS, for an undisclosed sum, wrapping that into its cheminformatics offering.

Furthermore, Accelrys will honor existing partnerships with companies like BT. Last May, the two firms signed an agreement allowing them to couple the BT for Life Science cloud compute platform with the Accelrys Enterprise platform and to jointly offer analysis infrastructure and data that customers in drug research and development and clinical trials could use to gain insights into areas of unmet medical need and select trial participants, among other activities. The BT partnership has proved profitable for both companies and there are no plans to make any changes to the agreement, Pederson said. The company also has an agreement with Thomson Reuters that allows customers of its enterprise platform access life sciences content from Thomson Reuters' Cortellis for Informatics.

One of the few publicly traded informatics companies, Accelrys in its most recent earnings release reported a one percent bump in revenues for Q3 of last year — it had a total revenue of $40.9 million for the three months ended Sept. 30, compared to $40.5 million in the prior year.

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