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GeneFormatics Chooses IBM as Preferred Partner for Computing Equipment, Support

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IBM continued its penetration of the proteomics market last week, as protein database provider GeneFormatics chose the company to provide computing equipment and support. As part of the deal, IBM also made an undisclosed equity investment in San Diego-based GeneFormatics.

Although the partnership is non-exclusive, the deal makes IBM the “preferred partner” for GeneFormatics, an arrangement that provides GeneFormatics with special pricing on hardware, software, and services, as well as access to potential customers through IBM’s sales force.

“We did look at other options and we decided that IBM had both the best equipment to meet our needs and the best services to back that up,” said Melanie Marks, a spokeswoman for GeneFormatics. “As wel,l they expressed an interest early on to participate in a round of financing so I think everything fell well into place.”

The two companies did not disclose the size of IBM’s equity investment, which makes up a portion of GeneFormatics’ $22 million third round. Marks described the contribution as “significant.” Other investors in the third round included Bruker AXS, Bruker Daltonics, Bruker BioSpin, Takara Shuzo, and China Development Bank.

Specifically, IBM will supply GeneFormatics with a cluster of eServer xSeries 330 systems running Linux, its Enterprise Storage Server, and its DB2 Universal Database. GeneFormatics has not yet purchased IBM’s DiscoveryLink data integration software, but may in the future, IBM said.

IBM will also help GeneFormatics manage its database of protein structure and function information, and assist in making the database web-accessible, Marks said. The GeneFormatics database includes data obtained from both computational and experimental sources, including NMR and x-ray crystallography experiments.

Although IBM’s sales force will not “proactively” market GeneFormatics’ database and research services, Marks said IBM would help spread the word about GeneFormatics’ offerings when they see a client with specific needs. “If they’re at another biotech or pharma company and they’re becoming familiar with what that company does, then they would say to that company, ëYou know I think you ought to consider looking into GeneFormatics,’” she said.

Last month, Proteome Systems announced that IBM would supply hardware for its proteomics platform, which is expected to hit the market early next year. IBM also has equity stakes in Structural Bioinformatics and MDS Proteomics.

— JSM

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