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15 August, 2006 - 15:13 By Staff Reporter

New York company to bring 50 jobs to the region by end of year

A New York City biotech data services company is set to bring in around 50 new jobs to the region by the end of the year through the opening of its first England-based operation.

Cognia Corporation, a developer and distributor of information solutions for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, plans to establish a corporate service office in Cambridge, which the firm says is one of its most lucrative markets.

The expansion plan is being driven by the firm’s recent success in Scotland, where it began operations in March 2005 under a £5.3 million, three-year R & D collaboration with the University of Edinburgh in the field of ‘text-mining’ – the intelligent recovery and analysis of large unstructured quantities of data.

The original Edinburgh research programme inv-olved 10 Cognia EU Ltd employees working onsite.

Just 18 months later and the company has tripled its Scotland operation, including the establishment of a European headquarters in South Gyle.

Text mining is the process of analysing large quantities of text to identify and extract valuable information.

While initially developed for the Life Sciences market, this platform technology has the potential to be developed and commercialised for use in other market sectors.

The aim of the Edinburgh programme is to develop powerful new tools to extract key information from the growing mountain of Life Sciences data, creating a commercial success through a state-of-the-art centre of excellence in a new discipline.

It was driven by ITI Life Sciences, an organisation pushing Scotland’s ambitious plans to identify, develop and commercialise valuable technology-based intellectual assets in Life Sciences.

The group’s aim is to bridge the increasing funding gap between publicly funded early stage research and privately backed commercial development.

According to ITI Life Sciences’ markets and technology analysis, the market for advanced text mining and related technologies is currently growing at 10 per cent and is set to accelerate. Based on current spending analysis within the pharmaceutical industry, the Life Sciences text mining market is estimated to be worth £200m in 2014.

The efficiencies achieved by accessing the information in database form could also help drive down the cost of drug development significantly, bringing benefits to over 190,000 R & D information users at pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in the US, Japan and Europe alone.

Cognia’s decision to continue the European expansion through Cambridge came after efforts by the New York office of UK Trade & Investment, the UK government’s international business development agency, who worked closely with Cognia executives.

Robert Merold, chief executive of Cognia, said: “Beyond being an excellent economic move for our company, we have been overwhelmingly impressed with the calibre of talent we’ve been able to attract and retain in the UK.

“UK Trade & Investment is a great resource and has been instrumental in guiding us through the transition into the European marketplace. Our experience of doing business in Scotland has been superb and we plan to have additional operations up and running in England by the end of 2006.”

Dr John Chiplin, CEO of ITI Life Sciences, said: “Text mining is set to play an increasingly important role in all areas of science and technology in the future.

“Nowhere is this more relevant than in the life sciences where a massive and ever expanding body of scientific research work offers the potential to uncover hidden pearls of information currently lost in an ocean of words.

“In commercial terms, sophisticated text mining approaches will enable the world’s pharmaceutical and Life Sciences communities to pursue new avenues of research and ultimately improve the efficiency of the drug discovery process.”

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