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Nature's Parent Publisher Launches Research Software and Data Business

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Macmillan Publishers has launched a new business called Digital Science that will provide software tools and services to scientists, managers, and funders, the company said this week.

Macmillan, which also owns the Nature Publishing Group, said that Digital Science will focus on "technology-based solutions for research rather than scientific content."

Digital Science will "combine in-house product design and software development capabilities" with know-how from academic research groups as well as from start-ups and established companies, Macmillan said.

The company disclosed three firms that will contribute resources to Digital Science: SureChem, BioData, and Symplectic.

SureChem is a text-mining company with a focus on extracting chemical information from large content collections. It hosts a web portal for searching patent databases for chemical structures and names, and its technology is currently used to annotate chemical terms in Nature Publishing Group's online journals. Macmillan acquired SureChem last December.

BioData is a provider of laboratory management systems. Digital Science acquired an equity stake in the company earlier this month.

Digital Science also acquired an equity stake in Symplectic earlier this month. The company offers a software product called Elements that automatically integrates published research with other systems, such as those for grant management and proposal development, in order to aid strategic planning at research organizations.

Timo Hannay, the former publishing director of nature.com who has been tapped to helm Macmillan's newest division, noted that although "research is becoming more and more digitally enabled" and "more productive … the gap between the potential opportunity and the current state of the art is still wide."

"At Digital Science we want to help change that," he said.

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