SGI is further burnishing its image in the East Asian life sciences computing market with the recent tie-up of its Japan subsidiary with long-time partner NEC.
Under the terms of the strategic alliance, NEC and its subsidiary NEC Soft will together invest $96 million in SGI Japan, and assume control of 40 and 20 percent of its shares, respectively. SGI Japan, which was established in 1987, and NEC have worked together closely on several previous projects, including the Origin 2000-based supercomputing systems set up at Tohoku Universitys Institute of Fluid Science in 1999 and the Tokyo Institute of Technology Global Scientific Information and Computing Center in March 2000.
Although an SGI Japan spokeswoman claimed that it was too early to announce any specific SGI-NEC projects, the two companies promote the tie-up as a coupling of SGIs visualization, scalability, and broadband expertise with NECs nationwide service network and broadband technologies. The partnership is also hoping to build on NEC Softs recently opened technology center, which is focused on biology. While NEC Soft said it has no concrete projects ready to announce in this area, it is in talks with a number of government and university research institutes.
Past customers of SGI Japan in the area of genomics applications include RIKEN, the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Tokyo , and the University of Kyoto [BioInform 10-22-01].
Norio Izumi, president of SGI Japan, noted that the strategy the partners have taken of localizing a foreign-owned subsidiary is extremely rare in Japan.
Sara Harris, Tokyo