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Fresh from First SRS Renewal, BioWisdom Readies Version 8.2, Mulls Accelerated Integration Roadmap


BioWisdom this week announced that Boehringer Ingelheim has extended its license for SRS and SRS Prisma for another year — the first such renewal that BioWisdom has announced since acquiring the SRS business from Lion Bioscience last month [BioInform 04-07-06].

Under the terms of the deal, Boehringer Ingelheim has agreed to upgrade its Biberach, Germany, and Ridgefield, NJ, sites to new versions of the software. The company has been using SRS as part of its bioinformatics infrastructure for five years.

Gordon Smith Baxter, BioWisdom CEO, told BioInform that renewals from customers like Boehringer Ingelheim are "very important" to BioWisdom as it works to overcome uncertainty in the marketplace about the longevity of the data-integration product.

"I think the ownership issues with regard to Lion — where SRS was going to be — caused a lot of people to pause, and even some to consider alternatives to SRS," he said. "We're working hard to keep customers happy so they do renew," he said, adding that the firm also hopes to win back customers who abandoned the product years ago.

"Where we're going to take SRS is a lot more significant than where it currently is," he said, "so I'm hoping that some of the customers that haven't renewed — even from some of the earlier versions — will consider upgrading to 8.2 and then getting back on a path that will bring a lot more useful functionality in the coming months."

"I think the ownership issues with regard to Lion — where SRS was going to be — caused a lot of people to pause, and even some to consider alternatives to SRS."

Baxter said that SRS 8.2 is on track for release within the next four to six weeks.

In addition to the Boehringer Ingelheim renewal, Baxter said that BioWisdom signed a "significant" agreement for SRS with a new customer that does not want to be identified. That agreement is worth more than €5 million ($6.4 million), he said.

Baxter told BioInform last month that BioWisdom didn't plan to fully integrate its technology platform with SRS for another year because the final purchase price for the business depended on the product's commercial performance as a standalone software tool.

This week, however, Baxter said the company may accelerate that timeline a bit. He said that some of BioWisdom's current customers are inquiring about a combined offering, particularly as part of BioWisdom's Safety Intelligence Program, a knowledge-management service centered around drug safety data.

"SRS has tended to be [for] genomics and bioinformatics people, and the BioWisdom customer based has tended to be more [for] product-focused people — drug development teams, clinical development, toxicology. They draw on bioinformatics, but they don't run the software themselves," Baxter said. "Those kinds of customers are interested in SRS as a component of that broader safety intelligence offering."

Baxter cautioned that the development timeline depends entirely on demand, however. "The whole level of interest in our safety intelligence program is one of the crucial, driving factors. If we sign up one or two major customers more quickly, then we will probably accelerate the integration," he said. "But until there are customers with whom we can test our idea and our approaches, we could be wasting time and money."

In the meantime, BioWisdom has transferred all 20 employees from Lion's Cambridge, UK, SRS operation to its own facility in Cambridge. All that's left to move is Lion's servers, he said.

Overall, Baxter described the integration as a smooth one, particularly because both companies were based in Cambridge "and some of the people actually knew each other."

Baxter acknowledged that the "cultural integration" following an acquisition is often more difficult than the technical or business integration because "there are always challenges with regard to people not being sure of what the future holds."

Nevertheless, he said that so far, "It's been a fairly painless transition for everybody."

— Bernadette Toner ([email protected])

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