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EBI to Kick off SME Support Program in October


EBI to Kick off SME Support Program in October

The European Bioinformatics Institute will launch a new bioinformatics support network for small businesses on Oct. 13, 2003, when it will host its first meeting.

The SME (small-to-medium enterprise) Support Forum, originally proposed in January [BioInform 01-20-03], will offer a biannual networking meeting, hands-on training, access to technical expertise, and consultancy services for SMEs — companies with fewer than 250 employees and an annual turnover not exceeding €50 million ($55 million) or an annual balance-sheet total not exceeding €43 million.

According to the EBI, many SMEs have only a single staff member responsible for bioinformatics. The institute said the program was created “in response to demand from small companies for bioinformatics support, and has been designed in consultation with them.”

An upper limit for the number of participants has not been set. “We’re hoping that 30-50 companies will join the forum, but we have the facilities to cope with more,” an EBI spokeswoman told BioInform.

An annual subscription to the SME Support Forum costs €1,000. Last week, the EBI was awarded £300,000 ($474,000) to support small-to-medium enterprises from the UK Department of Trade and Industry’s Harnessing Genomics Fund. The impact of this grant on the forum, and its benefits to members, will be discussed during the forum’s launch meeting.

Further information about the program is available at

Electric Genetics Opens US Headquarters

Electric Genetics of Cape Town, South Africa, opened its new corporate headquarters in Reston, Va., in mid-August, citing the need to increase its sales and marketing efforts in the US, where most of its customers are based.

The company’s R&D operations will remain in Cape Town.

EG hired Michele Nathan Borek, formerly senior account executive at MolecularWare, to head up East Coast sales.

Borek will be based in New Jersey.

Agencourt and Integrated Genomics Pen Marketing Alliance

Genomic services provider Agencourt Bioscience has entered a co-marketing alliance with microbial genomics firm Integrated Genomics.

The companies will jointly market Agencourt’s library construction and high-throughput sequencing services with Integrated Genomics’ ERGO bioinformatics package.

ERGO “will greatly expand Agencourt’s existing genome assembly capabilities with proprietary downstream genetic analysis software, bioinformatics services and a comprehensive genome database,” according to an Agencourt statement.


PNNL Flips the Switch on Monster Linux Cluster

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Hewlett-Packard have announced that the 11.8-teraflop Linux cluster HP built for the DOE lab is fully operational.

Currently the fastest operational unclassified supercomputer in the US, the HP Integrity system running nearly 2,000 Intel Itanium-2 “Madison” 64-bit processors would be ranked fourth for peak performance on the most recent Top 500 list, according to HP.

PNNL researchers are using the system for studies in systems biology, atmospheric chemistry, catalysis, and materials science.

China Post: HP Teams with Taiwan’s ITRI on Bioinformatics

The China Post reported on Aug. 27 that Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and Hewlett-Packard Taiwan have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on research into systems biology and bioinformatics.

“The project stands for a vital step for ITRI to integrate its past achievements into research on genes, proteins, and diseases, by taking the systems biology approach,” Johnsee Lee, executive vice president of ITRI and general director of ITRI’s Biomedical Engineering Center, told the paper.

ITRI and HP will co-develop a high-performance computing platform, and HP Taiwan will “provide financial support” in the first phase of the research project, according to the report.

“We aim to top roughly 200 terabytes of information in three years,” said Lee.

VBI Seeks Additional State Funding

Virginia Tech’s Collegiate Times reported last week that the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors is asking the state for an extra $54.3 million over the next two years to fund areas including the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute.

Allan Bradley, undergraduate representative of the board of visitors, told the paper that the VBI has been “heavily reliant upon private funds over the past two years.”

$12.2 million of the proposed funding would be used toward the VBI, which would cover faculty and classroom costs as well as base funds.

Genomatix Extends NIH Agreement, Signs New Deal with GSF

Munich-based bioinformatics software firm Genomatix signed two agreements in August to extend its position in the non-profit research market.

On Aug. 14, the company announced that it had expanded an existing agreement with the US National Institutes of Health. Previously, around 150 NIH researchers were using the company’s online silico systems biology tools free of charge.

Now researchers from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute have agreed to purchase a license for unlimited access to the system. According to a Genomatix statement, “several more institute orders are pending.”

On Aug. 19, the company said it signed an institute-wide license for its systems biology software and databases with GSF, Germany’s National Research Center for Environment and Health.

More than 1,600 employees of the GSF now have access to GenomatixSuite platform, the company said.

Genomatix will also provide two years of consulting and contract research for GSF.

BBSRC Expands Bioinformatics and E-Science Program

The UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council has earmarked additional funds for the Bioinformatics and E-Science program it launched in 2001 with a budget of over £8 million ($12.6 million) [BioInform 05-14-01].

An additional £14 million will now be available to the program over the next three years, the BBSRC said. The primary delivery mechanism will be an £11 million initiative focusing on genomics, structural biology, dynamic processes in cells, biodiversity, integrative biology, and proteomics.

Research proposals are invited in the areas of algorithm and software development for the integration of biological data; the development of Grid-enabled tools to solve specific biological problems; new Grid pilot projects; research projects that build upon existing Grid pilot projects; and training in bioinformatics and e-science.

Further information about the initiative is available at

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