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Bringing it together
MILFORD, Mass.—Waters Corp. and Symyx Technologies Inc. announced in early April an open-ended collaboration for integrating the Waters NuGenesis Scientific Data Management System (SDMS) and the Symyx Software Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN). Increased product compatibility, believe the companies, should boost productivity and information sharing.
Pat Martell, director of informatics marketing at Waters, says, "There's expertise that the Symyx team brings to different applications around the discovery process, and I think what the NuGenesis SDMS solution brought forth was the ability to take information from varied and disparate sources and make it accessible and usable within the Symyx environment in a bi-directional way." Martell says the NuGenesis line has a reputation as the "Switzerland of information management" for working well as a stand-alone that accepts various types of data.
Martell and Randy Clark, Symyx's vice president of marketing, say the collaboration arose from requests from a common customer. "In that case," says Clark, "we're the enterprise ELN provider for that customer, and in one of their labs they're using NuGenesis for chromatography data management and what they wanted to do is to design the experiment in an ELN and then do some of the execution and analysis of the experiment within NuGenesis and then come out and report again in the ELN. The framework that we tend to see again and again is design, execute, analyze, and report."
Execution, says Clark, could be in chromatography, x-ray diffraction, Raman spectroscopy, or another analysis. For all, Clark sees productivity benefits—and less need for paper—for people designing experiments. "They don't need to transfer data in a manual way. For folks that are executing and analyzing, they're able to do that both within the ELN and within NuGenesis."
Symyx and Waters have not concluded formal co-marketing or reseller agreements for the collaboration: both will continue to offer products to life sciences markets. Symyx will focus on medicinal, process, and analytical chemistry for big pharma and biotech, plus chemical research and development, according to Clark. Symyx also sees opportunity in academia but doesn't currently have an academic program for ELNs because of "bandwidth issues."
Waters will continue marketing to life sciences clients but, Martell adds, "we continue to also have a very good chemical analysis business, so if you look at food safety analysis, environmental testing, things of that nature, we certainly do a lot of business in those market segments as well." Although Martell believes few companies provide as much flexibility or capability within chromatography or mass spec software as Waters, he cites Agilent as a prominent competitor. Clark sees CambridgeSoft as Symyx's primary competition and hopes the integration will draw CambridgeSoft customers.
The maturation of the ELN market is a positive for customers, says Clark, "The good news I think we're seeing in the market is that ELNs are now at the maturity level that they can support LIMS integrations and that we've been talking about the paperless lab for a long time, but that doesn't need to necessarily be complicated or a whole integration challenge from a service perspective."