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IDBS to Acquire InforSense to Expand Integration Offering, Life Science Presence

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By Bernadette Toner

This article has been updated from a version posted June 29 to include comments from an IDBS official.

IDBS said this week that it will acquire InforSense in an all-cash transaction that is expected to close next month.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

IDBS, a privately held firm based in Guildford, UK, said in a statement that InforSense's data integration platform and analytical tools will "perfectly complement" its own offerings, which include the ActivityBase Suite for drug discovery data management, the E-WorkBook Suite for research data management in regulated environments, and the Decision Support Suite for analysis and data integration.

Chris Molloy, vice president of corporate development at IDBS, told BioInform that since IDBS was founded 20 years ago, "we have focused on data capture and searchable data management frameworks, with a separate range of tools for data integration and reporting." The InforSense suite of products will "augment our technologies in decision support, and provide a really deep set of applications for integrating not only the scientific data within our data models, but from multiple data models, multiple data sources, whilst being able to perform analytical workflows on that data."

He added that the company believes the acquisition has created "the first organization in the life sciences sector that can supply the entire solution — from data capture to integration, storage, retrieval, analytics, and reporting."

IDBS is particularly interested in leveraging the InfoSense platform to expand its presence in the translational medicine and personalized medicine markets, Molloy said.

He cited the company's ClinicalSense product as being of particular interest because it provides specific functionality for clinical cohort selection, "which is really the touchstone for so much of translational medicine and personalized medicine."

He also noted that InforSense's VisualSense suite of products should play a key role in the combined firm because "it provides a very rapid way for users to be able to pull data from various sources together, to analyze them, and review them … without reliance on very large data integration or professional services projects."

The two firms currently "have good overlap in the life sciences market," Molloy said. "Many of the organizations who have worked with IDBS on the application level are also working with InforSense on the integration technology level, and also are moving toward embracing translational medicine as a unique activity within their organizations, so they can benefit clearly from what InforSense brings in those areas."

Molloy said that while "many organizations" are already using the InforSense platform to integrate IDBS data with other data sources, the two firms did not have any formal integration agreement prior to the acquisition. "But clearly, as the integration continues, we'll be working more and more closely on developing … the ability to seamlessly connect those tools to provide broad solutions," he said.

Keeping the Brand

The company added that the InforSense brand, products, partnerships "will continue to be vigorously developed, marketed, and supported around the world."

InforSense has a broad range of partnerships. Earlier this month, the company announced an OEM agreement with Febit under which the microarray vendor will bundle InforSense's workflow technology and visualization software with its Geniom array platform [BioInform June 5, 2009].

InforSense also has an OEM agreement with Thermo Fisher Scientific in which its workflow technology is embedded in Thermo's Proteome Discoverer software [BioInform Sept. 12, 2008].

In addition to its OEM deals, InforSense has integration partnerships with a range of players in the life science informatics space, including Apple, the BioTeam, BioWisdom, Chemical Computing Group, ChemAxon, Elsevier MDL, GeneGo, GenomeQuest, Ingenuity Systems, LabVantage, Linguamatics, Strategic Medicine, and Tripos.

On the academic front, InforSense is collaborating with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Windber Research Institute, and the Erasmus Medical Center to develop a translational research informatics infrastructure based on its workflow technology [BioInform April 21, 2008].

The company is also participating in a large-scale project funded by European Commission to develop grid-based data technology for product development and production process design in the pharmaceutical industry [BioInform, Oct. 17, 2008].

Privately held InforSense was founded in 1999 as a spinout of Imperial College, London, and is headquartered in London with offices in Boston and Shanghai.

In January, the firm raised $5 million in financing [BioInform Jan. 16, 2009], adding to $10 million it raised in 2006 [BioInform Oct. 13, 2006].

In line with the recent financing, founder Yike Guo stepped down as CEO to take on the role of chief technology officer and head of innovation, while David Bennett, previously executive vice president of worldwide sales, was appointed CEO.

Guo will serve as chief innovation officer at IDBS and retains his post as a professor of computer science at Imperial College, but the company did not provide details on the status of Bennett. As of January, InforSense had a headcount of around 85 staffers.

Molloy said that IDBS had "just under" just under 200 employees prior to the acquisition and now has more than 260 employees worldwide.

Neil Kipling, CEO and founder of IDBS, said in a statement that an "additional facet" of the deal "is the opportunity to cement a strategic informatics research relationship with Imperial College."

Molloy noted that "the relationship between InforSense and Imperial has been a very strong one, and we believe that under the new organization, the enlarged IDBS and Imperial College can work together on some exciting new research projects in informatics."

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