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Transforming informatics with a marketplace in the Cloud

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Continuing her series profiling companies providing informatics software, Sophia Ktori looks at the innovative technology of Core Informatics

Core Informatics has just launched an online app store, through which subscribers will be able to shop from a catalogue of (initially about 40) preconfigured applications for specific functionalities. The Platform for Science Marketplace is open to subscribers of the firm’s cloud-based Platform for Science informatics infrastructure. ‘We are pretty excited about the launch, which will allow our clients to deploy specific configurations for specific tasks even more quickly,’ commented Kevin Cronin, chief commercial officer.

Integration of multiple data sources

Core Informatics claims the app store will create unparalleled flexibility in laboratory data management systems, not least because its rapidly expanding library of pre-built applications will enable immediate integration of multiple data sources, including instruments, collaborators, and third party solutions. ‘Core’s Platform for Science is designed to empower users to extend and configure their data management systems quickly and take advantage of industry best practices to meet their changing workflows without custom coding,’ said Anthony Uzzo, the president of Core Informatics. ‘The Platform for Science Marketplace was created to exploit this adaptable design structure, which anticipates the accelerating speed of global scientific advances.’

‘Whether you are a CEO interested in speeding up new product initiatives, a researcher trying to break free from inflexible software systems, or a member of the IT team trying to reduce complexity with a truly extensible and flexible system, the Platform for Science Marketplace has something to offer,’ added Mary-Ann Moore, VP of marketing for Core Informatics.

The imminent launch of this new offering follows just a few months after the company launched its Core Collaboration software, which has been developed specifically to support partnerships within and between the life sciences industry, academia, and service providers. ‘Core Collaboration offers a secure platform for data sharing, which is easily configurable to meet the requirements of any type of collaboration,’ Cronin explained. ‘Core Collaboration complements our existing ELN (electronic laboratory notebook), LIMS (laboratory information management system) and SDMS (scientific data management system) packages that make up the Platform for Science concept, which we offer as an Amazon Web Services-hosted platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution.’

The company’s Collaboration software and Platform for Science Marketplace initiative exemplify how far its infrastructure is removed from traditional LIMS and ELN offerings. This is not least because the platform is completely configurable, and requires no custom coding, Cronin reiterated. ‘This configurability also means that the platform can address some of the major informatics bottlenecks in the life sciences – and particularly the bioindustries – in areas such as next-generation sequencing (NGS), proteomics, genomics, clinical diagnostics, and agbiotech. Traditional LIMS just don’t have the flexibility or data models to manage complex datasets in these emerging fields.’

A traditionally blinkered market?

This ability to meet the workflow, data management and analysis requirements of emerging areas of life sciences has allowed Core Informatics to make a major impact on a market that has traditionally been blinkered to a handful of LIMS products and niche software offered by a similar handful of vendors. Core Informatics’ co-founders, Anthony Uzzo and Jim Gregory, both came out of the pharma industry with the recognition that many LIMS platforms are outdated and inflexible. They wanted to embrace the new technologies that were being made available, particularly through the cloud.

Probably one of the pivotal decisions in the foundation of Core Informatics was becoming an early client of Amazon Web Services, and the firm now has the unique distinction of being recognised as an Amazon Web Services’ APN Life Sciences Competency Partner. Offering the software through the cloud means that clients can use as much or as little of the platform as they need, without the need for any major reconfiguration. It is accessible on any web-enabled platform, from smartphone to desktop. For customers with requirements preventing the use of the cloud, on-premises deployments are also available.

Securing new clients

Having developed the initial iterations of the technology, Uzzo and Gregory effectively spent a number of years knocking on doors to build up a portfolio of installations that would demonstrate the utility of the Core platform, particularly in the emerging areas of life science and clinical/molecular diagnostics. This meant that during the early years, new clients were secured largely by word of mouth.

‘One of the key points about the Core technology that helped us to engage more clients, was that our platform is less about replacing existing LIMS technology, and more providing solutions that address the informatics bottlenecks in today’s life sciences arena,’ Cronin stressed. ‘Thermo Fisher Scientific, for example, uses Core’s Platform for Science in its NGS environment. And the crop science giant, Syngenta, uses our platform for its global greenhouse nurseries.’

Funding to boost commercialisation

Having been privately funded for the first six years of its operation, Core Informatics hired CEO, Josh Geballe, two years ago, and significantly built up its sales team, customer success team, and commercial infrastructure. ‘Josh brought in external funding that, together with funding from the state of Connecticut, meant that we could more aggressively increase our commercialisation efforts globally, and extend our reach into relevant markets. It was the hard work of Uzzo and Gregory during the early years, however, which means that we can now go to new clients and use the experiences of our existing customers to demonstrate the power of the platform.’

With a number of multinational pharma and agbiotech companies already in its client portfolio, Core Informatics has a global footprint, and is expanding its teams in key areas, including Europe and Asia.

Know your market

Technology aside, Core Informatics’ in-depth knowledge of its market and of the informatics requirements of emerging science are its biggest assets, Cronin suggested. ‘Our people have a lot of experience in the LIMS space, so we understand the limitations of traditional LIMS packages, and also the requirements of our clients. Each of our customers has a dedicated customer success manager assigned to them, who will understand their industry and workflows, and will work closely with them.’

Core Informatics is enjoying a major period of growth, and Cronin said it can now confidently answer one of the more common questions that a young informatics company will be faced with from a prospective client: ‘We like your technology and want to support innovation, but will you still be around in 4-5 years’ time?’ In the early days this was a hard question to answer, Cronin admitted, and a number of the companies that Core Informatics is signing deals with today were looking at the technology three or four years ago, but were not ready to commit to a platform that they were not convinced would still be supported a few years down the line.

‘Even though we are still a private company, we can now put the figures confidently in front of a prospective client’s CFO. We will be announcing a number of major deals within the next few months, and in each case discussions about our critical mass will have been key.’