March 12, 2007
CEO and founder
How has your company adapted and responded to the changing economic climate in the past five years when so many others companies did not?
We have experienced rapid changes in the industry in the last five years, and we have identified three major shifts: Firstly, the life science industry has become more mature. People no longer spend money on a promise, but want to solve real problems and see a defined return on their investment for a more efficient drug discovery process. Secondly, the industry is developing a more efficient model for drug discovery based on outsourcing — we describe this as the “research supply chain” for developing drugs from academics-basic research to product research in biotechs to commercial exploration in pharmaceutical companies. The whole industry is organized based on such a supply chain. Thirdly, informatics-based research is not isolated any more, but is becoming integrative. Biological study, chemical study, and clinical research are closely integrated. The integrative nature of life sciences research is exactly why the concepts of System Biology or translational medicine have evolved.
InforSense is well positioned to meet this three-fold vision — our platform is horizontal but enables customers to leverage existing investments in any vertical solution by developing the open workflow technology to allow for existing products to be integrated via a service-based composition model to deliver specific applications. We already support new-style virtual discovery organizations by integrating and managing informatics activities conducted by cross domains, geographically-distributed specialist teams. Workflows can also effectively support research communication and IP transfer by recording analytical decision-making processes.
Furthermore, as a leading Integrative Analytics company, our technology is designed to enable companies to support cross-domain research from early stage discovery through to the clinic. Our 800+ available components cover almost all the informatics functions across the entire drug discovery process. These components can be combined in a very flexible way to build a specific application by a researcher.
What is your vision for the future of the life sciences market over the next several years?
I have a radical view on this! I believe there will be fewer vertical software companies in the market because this is not a sustainable business. I predict there will be three types of companies left. The industry still needs content providers with data/knowledge management applications; experimental research support providers such as LIMS and eLabnotebook vendors to provide scientific information management; and analytical platform companies, which will support analysis over the data obtained from the first two. InforSense belongs to this class.
Vertical software will be provided using a rather different model with access via some sort of “Scientific eBay” where the customer purchases those algorithms they need on the internet. As such, vertical software will be sold by a very efficient community-based trading model. InforSense supports this concept through our new Customer Hub where we publish workflows to the research community and our customers just download and run. In the future we will also publish our SDK so each algorithm designer can use our SDK to deliver their algorithms as services, which can be plugged into this workflow environment and thus market their algorithms via the internet. This is a much more effective way to sell your scientific development and build your own vertical software, and is my view of the future market. That is exactly what a service based software industry will evolve into.
What products and services does your company provide and what special capabilities do they offer the life sciences market?
InforSense provides an informatics platform, which features a workflow engine to allow research scientists to construct their applications in an efficient and reusable way. We are the leader in this field.
We have developed the common underlying infrastructure which is not specific to any particular research field but which can support all informatics applications across life science R&D. However, we do provide vertical application support: BioSense, ChemSense, GenSense and HealthSense — all can interact together with third-party components and databases within a single platform to create the researcher’s own informatics solution.
Our deployment technology enables solutions to be published by various means such as web portal or third-party applications like Spotfire to support mass access. This is designed for life science enterprises by considering all the different users and applications the enterprise needs.
Partnerships are an effective way to track life science advances and ensure that your company delivers timely products and services. Which life sciences companies or organizations have you partnered with or invested in and why?
Partnership is natural for InforSense as a horizontal infrastructure provider. We currently have 26 partners including major life science informatics providers, which provides a rich portfolio of software that can be composed in InforSense workflows
Our second class of partnership besides ISVs is OEM — InforSense workflow technology is ideal for partnering with content/LIMS/eNotebook vendors who can use our technology to develop their own specific workflows and enable customers to extend out into the R&D process. For example, InforSense provides the KDE platform to Thermo Electron for integration into their industry-standard BioWorks package for proteomics data analysis.
The third type of partnership is with large software infrastructure providers like Oracle where InforSense has a strong and productive relationship. Our InforSense IOE product enables Oracle users to process and analyze their data directly within the database leveraging their Oracle investment and gaining scalability and high performance.
What are your most exciting products and initiatives in development, and how will they improve life science research?
We have just released InforSense KDE 4.0, developed in collaboration with top pharmaceutical companies, to support efficient and scalable high-throughput informatics studies across different functions and geographical locations.
Our current focus is on a new generation of deployment technology to enable rapid and pervasive use of applications built using KDE across large organizations. This new portal engine will be available in 2007.
On the application side, we have just announced GenSense for supporting whole genome association studies for biomarker research. To my knowledge it is the first product to support high-throughput genetics and will play a key role in linking clinical and pharmaceutical R&D.
The InforSense Customer Hub is a major initiative offering a new way to publish and conduct scientific research. Initially it will enable customers to rapidly benefit from their investment in InforSense technology with a living library of workflows and applications. The ultimate goal, however, is to provide a new way to publish scientific research as reusable processes, in addition to results.
We already have academic collaborations resulting in publication of their world class methods via the Hub to serve the research community. We need help from the industry to convert this in to a marketplace for scientists to distribute algorithms and methodologies. This will provide an efficient way to share ideas and will create a virtual scientific community where science can be presented, discussed and jointly developed.
Where do you see your company in five years?
I see InforSense as an enterprise analytics company providing a uniform platform for scientific informatics and business informatics. A matured informatics platform must be cross industry. Just like Oracle, Microsoft, and BEA, all the successful platform vendors will be successful in all industry sectors. InforSense is now expanding rapidly in non-life science fields in order to provide enterprise analytics environments in the financial, healthcare, and telecommunication industries. It is our firm belief that the pervasive use of InforSense technology in a wider spectrum of industries will make InforSense the major provider of informatics technology to the life science sector, which is InforSense’s true commitment.