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Dotmatics Expands East-Coast Ops; Eyes Informatics Markets Beyond Life Sciences


By Uduak Grace Thomas

UK-based cheminformatics firm Dotmatics has moved its US East Coast office to a larger facility in Boston in order to support its expanding sales and support teams.

The company last April opened its East Coast base in Charlestown, Mass., after opening its first US office in San Diego in March 2009 (BI 04/05/2010). Dotmatics last year also moved its UK headquarters to a building in Bishop's Stortford, north of London.

In addition to moving to its new premises to Boston, the company is looking to fill positions in scientific support, account management, and marketing to support "increased customer and business demands."

Shikha O'Brien, Dotmatics' vice president of US business development, told BioInform this week that the company currently has 12 people in its US offices with about three employees in the Boston office and a fourth who is expected to join the team soon. The new hires bring the company's global headcount to over 50 individuals.

Dotmatics' growth is coming from new businesses that have opted for its solutions on top of 100-percent renewal rates for existing customers, which includes pharmaceutical companies, small- to medium-sized biotechs, and non-profit research groups, O'Brien said.

For example, last year Frazer, Penn.-based biopharma Cephalon tapped Dotmatics to provide data querying and visualization solutions for its medicinal chemistry division (BI 5/3/2010). Similarly, last December, Dotmatics licensed its entire informatics suite to Lycera, a Cambridge, Mass.-based biopharma, to support its data-sharing and -analysis efforts.

Outside the US, Barcelona, Spain-based pharma Almirall licensed several Dotmatics products last year, as did the Paterson Institute for Cancer Research (BI 6/4/2010).

Similarly, UK-based Heptares Therapeutics took out a license for Dotmatics query/reporting, data-management, and interactive data-visualization suites (BI 3/31/2010), while the Beatson's Institute for Cancer Research selected the tool suite to help with data management and analysis as well as retrieval and mining (BI 3/5/2010).

Meanwhile, Dotmatics is considering business ventures outside the life sciences, O'Brien said, noting that there is a "critical need especially for data visualization and analytics tools" in multiple markets.

To that end, the company has sold products to customers in the chemicals-research space, oil and gas industries, and consumer products, although at present, its life-sciences clients still provide the bulk of its business.

The company's products include Browser, which is used for querying and visualizing databases; Vortex, which offers visualization and analytical capabilities for scientific and non-scientific data; Gateway for data sharing; and Pinpoint to query and integrate chemical databases.

Other tools in its product portfolio include Register, which is a chemical registration system; Nucleus, which helps users map and import data files into an Oracle database; Studies, an electronic laboratory notebook for managing chemical and biological research data; Elemental, a drawing tool for generating and altering chemical structures; and Prise, which assists in structural elucidation of drug metabolites.

The company also offers consulting services around database design, customized application development, and integrating informatics systems among other capabilities.

In the life-sciences market, Dotmatics' products butt heads with offerings from companies like Accelrys, ChemAxon, Cetara's Tripos, and Schrödinger, which all offer cheminformatics solutions targeted at pharma and biotech companies.

However, Dotmatics offers a "complete" platform that's not only "designed to address all the business needs for our customers when it comes to data management on the preclinical side," but also "work[s] very well" with platforms from other groups for those customers looking to fill in gaps in their workflows, O'Brien said. She added that this capability gives the company a unique position in the market.

The platform offers "a fresh start" for those pharma and biotech companies who are looking to dump their current infrastructure, but can also fill in the "gaping holes" left by tools from other companies, she explained.

For example, products like Browser and Vortex, which are among Dotmatics' top sellers, can be integrated with existing databases and don't require much customization in order to work, O'Brien said.

"The root of our success is in our ability to recognize the critical business needs that exist despite having current infrastructure at our customer sites and ... being able to offer solutions that fit ... into that infrastructure," she said. "Our ability to understand the unfulfilled needs by other vendors has created a niche for us ... we come in to complement what [they] cannot provide."

To illustrate, O'Brien used a chemistry cartridge as an example. "[Dotmatics'] philosophy is that if you already have a chemical cartridge indexing your chemical data ... we [can] integrate [the Browser tool] with that chemical cartridge," she explained. On the other hand, "if you have an opportunity to upgrade ... then Dotmatics offers that."

Dotmatics is planning to launch a series of new products and upgrades for existing products this fall, O'Brien said.

While she did not provide details about the releases, she said that the new capabilities are based on customers' requests and will address data-visualization issues among research issues.

Have topics you'd like to see covered in BioInform? Contact the editor at uthomas [at] genomeweb [.] com.

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