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Dot-Com Victim Artificial Life Seeks Second Chance for Bot Technology in Biotech Market


  Looking to rise from the ashes of the dot-com bust, New York-based Artificial Life, a provider of intelligent software bot technology, has signed its first agreement with a biotech company, Swiss/Canadian BeFutur Biotechnologies, which specializes in stem cell research and regenerative medicine.

Eberhard Schoeneburg, CEO of Artificial Life, said the company’s intelligent agent technology originated in his background as a mathematician working on brain models. But in 1997, he said, “It was difficult to make money doing brain research,” so the company targeted its technology for the Internet and rode the dot-com wave to an early IPO in 1998 with no products, no clients, and no revenues.

“But you know the history,” Schoeneburg said. By last March the company ran into financial trouble and dramatically restructured with the goal of returning to its biology roots.

In addition to the bot technology, which can be applied to data mining of biological data, Artificial Life has developed algorithms to simulate and analyze cell growth patterns. The two technologies can be combined, giving the company an edge over competitors, according to Schoeneburg.

“The robots that are able to analyze huge data files resulting from the human genome project and then we use that as input for our simulation models. When we run the simulation models the robot can explain the results of the simulation. It can say, for example, that the test has failed because the data was inconsistent,” said Schoeneburg.

It was this two-pronged approach that sold BeFutur on Artifical Life. Carla-Maria Khanjian, vice president of business development at BeFutur, said the company considered GeneData, Iobion Informatics, and other vendors before deciding on the “dual synthesis and analysis” offered by Artificial Life.

Other vendors, Khanjian said, rely on data mining techniques “limited to statistical methods and neural networks.” BeFutur intends to use Artificial Life’s data mining capabilities, but more importantly, will apply its simulation technology to simulate stem cell growth and development patterns.

Schoeneburg said the Internet market still comprises around 90 percent of Artifical Life’s business, but he expects that to shift to a 50/50 ratio by end of year.

“We’re hoping the biotech part will grow stronger than the Internet,” he said. “Let’s just hope nothing happens to the biotech market.”

— BT

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