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Bioinformatics: Leveraging for Dollars

Selling research software is a tough way to generate big returns: there are dozens of competitors, most markets are small, and technology changes fast. Some companies are trying to create one-stop shopping solutions for large clients, building consulting and training businesses onto software sales in order to leverage up per-client fees. Others are creating one-stop-shops of a more democratic kind by exploiting the Web. Instead of selling to bioinformaticians, they're aggregating often easy-to-use versions of bioinformatics software and selling affordable subscriptions. But their real revenue generation model may be context-sensitive e-procurement: pointing out to customers which reagents to buy and then taking a percentage of the selling price.

BioPharmaceutical Strategy

Big Foot: Celera Steps into the Genomic Market

PE Corp. created Celera to exploit its high-productivity new sequencer, the Prism 3700, and build a broad set of proprietary genomic databases. The move instantly boosted sales of the new sequencer, paying for the expensive start-up in increased revenues to PE's PE Biosystems division and a dramatic increase in market value. Unlike its genomic database competitors, Celera won't charge subscribers royalties and milestones for successful use of the data. To encourage broad and continuing use of the system it hopes will become the industry standard, it plans to make money largely on subscription fees and enlarging its client base, not reach-through rights. But novel genetic data is just the hook for catching clients--Celera hopes to keep them subscribing with a program of continuous annotations and a set of bioinformatics tools that enable a level of in silico experimentation once requiring highly expensive in vitro and in vivo studies. But a raft of new and older competitors stand in the way of its bioinformatics ambitions.

BioPharmaceutical Strategy
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