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InforMax Encroaches on Lion s Turf InDistributionDealwithBiomax

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InforMax has gained exclusive distribution rights to the BioRS Integration and Retrieval System developed by Biomax Informatics, a deal that will bolster InforMax’ presence in Europe, according to Steve Lincoln, senior vice president of life science informatics at InforMax.

Lincoln said that Martinsried, Germany-based Biomax has positioned the BioRS technology as an alternative to Lion’s SRS platform. While the partnership may appear as an aggressive push to gain some of Lion’s market share, Lincoln said, “I don’t think this particular deal makes [the competition with Lion] any better or worse. This deal for us is part of our strategy of diversifying our product line.”

The BioRS data retrieval system integrates large heterogeneous public and proprietary databases. “Loosely speaking, it’s an indexing system,” Lincoln explained. “It has a variety of parsers that can index diverse data sources and present that indexed joint database to a query engine.”

At first, BioRS will be offered in conjunction with Informax’s GenoMax and Vector NTI platforms, Lincoln said, but he expects the BioRS technology to be “tightly integrated with our product line very quickly.”

Under the terms of the four-year agreement, InforMax’s sales force will market solutions using the combined technologies and the companies will co-market their products and services in both the US and Europe.

The system will allow InforMax to provide a “fairly unlimited” number of data sources to users of its products, Lincoln said. Biomax has built a set of importers for many commonly used genomic and proteomics databases, which can be extended to additional data sources.

The new capability will support what Lincoln referred to as a “holistic system” for high-throughput research, an approach that sets Informax apart from competitors such as Lion, he said. “We reach all the way through all stages, phases, and parties involved in the discovery process, all the way down to the lab bench,” he said.

Though both companies currently claim to hold a strong market position in Germany, Lincoln said that Biomax has focused more on vertical solutions and customized deals with customers, while Informax has gained most of its revenue from sales of its shrink-wrapped products. These are complementary abilities that will help both companies gain European market strength, Lincoln said.

But will BioRS help InforMax chip away at Lion’s market share? Christian Marcazzo, Lion’s director of product marketing, isn’t worried. “I’m looking forward to the competition,” he said. “It’s going to be fun.”

Marcazzo disputed Informax’s claim that BioRS is the sequence retrieval system of choice by the majority of Germany’s pharmaceutical companies. He noted that the four largest pharmaceutical companies in Germany — Bayer, Aventis, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Merck — are Lion customers.

He sees Informax’s adoption of BioRS as “validation of Lion’s metadata approach to data integration.”

In addition, Marcazzo cited Lion’s recent collaboration with The Scientific World, a web portal for scientific content, as one example of the company’s commitment to expand SRS beyond bioinformatics and into new kinds of data.

“So while Biomax and Informax work together to try and catch up with us in the world of genomics or bioinformatics,” he said, “we’re actively working to start expanding the applicability of SRS into other domains.”

Lincoln declined to comment on future partnership activities between Informax and Biomax. “We’re very excited about working with Biomax and we look forward to this being a long and growing relationship,” he said.

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