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InforSense Expands US and UK Offices To Prep for Growing Headcount in 2007

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Anticipating increasing demand for its KDE workflow technology, InforSense this week said it has expanded its offices in London and Cambridge, Mass., and that it plans to increase its headcount by around 30 percent over the course of 2007.   
 
The company also unveiled a new statistical genetics extension for KDE called GenSense, the first of several new products that it plans to launch this year.
 
During 2006, InforSense grew from 63 employees to around 100, and the company said it expects to employ around 130 people by the end of this year.
 
InforSense plans to add staff in product development, professional services, quality assurance, and global sales and marketing with the long-term goal of making KDE a “pervasive” technology within the pharmaceutical enterprise, CEO Yike Guo told BioInform this week.
 
“2007 is a year of growth. We’ll continue to emphasize new applications, and we’ll focus on how to deliver our technology to solve customer problems,” he said.
 
InforSense has already established a strong foothold in pharma R&D, and over the coming year, “we will populate our technology into not only R&D but [will have] more of a focus on the pervasive use of our technology in the whole drug-discovery pipeline, including sales and marketing,” Guo said.
 
InforSense appears to be closely following a roadmap that company officials laid out in October when the firm raised $10 million in venture capital. Guo said at the time that the financing was earmarked for “funding growth” — particularly within existing pharmaceutical accounts, where the firm identified an opportunity to expand its presence beyond isolated departmental deployments into enterprise-scale implementations [BioInform 10-13-06].  
 
The company’s growth strategy includes customer outreach; its newly expanded offices in the US and the UK include customer training facilities to host workshops and other customer-oriented events.
 
InforSense also plans to expand its compute capacity in order to boost the capabilities of the InforSense Customer Hub, a web-accessible repository of predefined KDE workflows that potential customers can access to test-drive the system. Guo termed the facility a “workflow center” rather than a data center.
 
“It’s really for people to learn the technology,” he said. “I don’t think that sending data outside the firewall is something that pharma wants to do. But for academic research, and for demonstration, for proof of concept, it’s pretty good.” 
 
Guo said that InforSense is developing several new applications that should be of interest to the company’s core customer base in R&D — namely the GenSense statistical genetics module, which enables identification of genetic variants associated with phenotypes such as drug efficacy and adverse events. InforSense is also developing a large-scale laboratory information processing module, a biobanking module, and a “global research portal” to help large pharmas manage outsourced projects.
 
“Realizing an efficient IT infrastructure to support this outsourcing is very challenging,” Guo said. The company’s workflow technology enables disparate research groups to share and manage project information, he said, and also provides “a very good IP capture mechanism” to help companies maintain their intellectual property — features that should be of interest to globally dispersed project teams, he said.
 
GenSense is currently available under an early-access program and will be broadly available by the end of the first quarter. InforSense did not provide a launch timeline for its other upcoming products, although Guo said that the firm has “reference customers” for the biobanking application and the outsourcing portal.
 
The company sees a promising opportunity for GenSense as genome-wide association studies become more commonplace. InforSense CSO Jonathan Sheldon said that while genotyping platforms from companies like Affymetrix and Illumina are nearing maturity, there is still no consensus on drawing conclusions from these studies.
 

“We will populate our technology into not only R&D but [will have] more of a focus on the pervasive use of our technology in the whole drug discovery pipeline, including sales and marketing.”

“I think it’s openly accepted that there’s no one best way to analyze this data,” he said. “There are lots of different kinds of algorithms and methods that you need to apply. And then when you’ve found [the genotype/phenotype] associations, you need the technology to be able to deliver that information out to end users so they can do something with it.”
 
Guo noted that many statistical genetics tools like JMP Genetics or Softgenetics’ products are designed for a single user on a desktop PC, “which does not address the problems facing enterprise-wide, large-scale, high-throughput devices.”
 
GenSense incorporates functionality from the open source Rgenetics project, and includes workflows for data processing, genotype/phenotype correlation, visualization, and reporting.
 
The package currently supports Affymetrix and Illumina formats, and Sheldon said the company plans to support additional formats as well. He noted that the company intends to remain platform agnostic “because there are no accepted platforms and people are using a lot of different approaches.”
 
Sheldon added that the GenSense workflow module can also be useful in cases where researchers are comparing different genotyping platforms. “You can have multiple workflows that compare different platforms and then you can look at the overlap in the results,” he said.

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