Accelrys rebrands after gamechanging acquisition
Cambridge is set to be a big winner out of Dassault Systèmes’ $750 million acquisition of life science software specialist Accelrys. It is believed the deal could trigger significant growth at the Cambridge company’s Science Park headquarters.
Accelrys has been renamed BIOVIA – a brand conveying the powerful technology armoury that will be arrayed by the combined businesses for the benefit of the global life science community. Rob Greenwood, VP EMEA Sales & Operations for BIOVIA says senior management intends to leverage the increasingly influential global cachet of the Cambridge life science cluster.
The French parent company believes that marrying the respective companies’ capabilities has created an unprecedented array of biomedical research tools. The enlarged business is building on a world-leading platform. BIOVIA is now the largest and deepest portfolio for the biological, chemical and material modelling, simulation and production domains. Its list of 2,000+ customers includes numerous Fortune 500 companies, such as Sanofi, Pfizer, GSK, AstraZeneca, Du Pont, Shell, BASF, P&G, Unilever and L’Oréal.
BIOVIA will provide enterprise-wide scientific, biological, chemical and material experiences, with next-generation applications, services, and content access and delivery leveraging Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE business platform. From material design to molecular simulation to chemical manufacturing, Greenwood says it is Dassault Systèmes’ vision that BIOVIA will act as a disruptive catalyst to deliver virtual scientific universes capable of harmonising products, nature and life.
Greenwood said: “Everything we are hearing points to a really exciting future for BIOVIA and we believe that Cambridge will remain central to the growth strategy. Dassault Systèmes is extremely visionary and it is thrilling to be part of that vision. The acquisition leaves us in a very strong position.”
Dassault Systèmes has a small presence at Quayside in Cambridge and other UK operations in Leicester, Coventry and Hammersmith but these are believed to be approaching capacity. Potentially that makes the Cambridge Science Park highly important strategically to the ongoing progress of the group.
Greenwood added: “Cambridge is our European headquarters, after all, even though we have other important locations in Europe such as Paris, Cologne, Stockholm and in Switzerland. Cambridge is a special location that will be further enhanced by AstraZeneca’s decision to move its corporate HQ and R & D hub to the Biomedical Campus.
“The life science scene locally is in its best ever shape. Even in Cambridge Massachusetts, which is a sensational biotech community, they see Cambridge UK as having real life science expertise. Cambridge UK almost represents a second coming of that Cambridge Mass environment.”
Greenwood said the company was already benefiting hugely from being able to tap into the Cambridge talent pool generated by the university and the growing life science community.
Cambridge’s international kudos as a life science hub is also helping the business attract talent from further afield across Europe – from France and Germany, for example. BIOVIA employs 750 people globally and over 200 of those are PhDs. Greenwood said: “That gives us the scientific credibility that a software provider in the science space and with our calibre of clientele simply must have to be taken seriously and succeed.”
BIOVIA is committed to continuous innovation, with Cambridge again at its heart. Major life science companies require business critical software and BIOVIA provides it. According to Greenwood, businesses in the space want to move faster while staying competitive – and BIOVIA is in tune with those demands against a rapidly evolving technology backdrop. He says: “You will see new generations of our software as we evolve in line with market demands: We invest 22 per cent of revenue in Research & Development, which is very high for a software company, but we believe that kind of commitment is essential to retain our credibility and world lead.”
And as BIOVIA in Cambridge thrives, so the life science community grows stronger along with the local economy, Greenwood adds.
A group of senior Dassault Systèmes managers from across Europe have been in Cambridge – another boost for local hotels, restaurants and cabbies; another spin-off from what Greenwood believes could prove one of the most successful acquisitions in the history of the relatively young Cambridge cluster.
“We have all seen technology takeovers in Cambridge that have gone spectacularly wrong but all the signs are positive for BIOVIA which is already growing and will continue to do so under the visionary strategy Dassault Systèmes has communicated to us.”
Open innovation and philanthropic culture
Bernard Charlès, the President & CEO of Dassault Systèmes, described it as one of the proudest days of his life and one of the most important in the history of the company – the day BIOVIA was officially christened following the acquisition of Accelrys.
Considering the Paris-quoted company is world leader in 3D design software, 3D Digital Mock Up and Product Lifecycle Management solutions, such enthusiasm for the birth of a new business demonstrates why everyone in the group is so excited about future prospects.
Leif Pedersen, Senior Vice-President at Accelrys – who was part of the deal team – said the acquisition and the birth of BIOVIA had created a genuine buzz – not just among group employees around the world but also among customers.
“One cannot help but be enthused when the President & CEO launches BIOVIA with the words ‘With the power of BIOVIA, we will model the entire biosphere.’
“Obviously the logistics of telling so many employees and customers is quite a task and we are only partway along that communication process but the reaction to date has been universally enthusiastic. We all feel we are part of something very special.
“People often say these kind of things when deals are done but this acquisition really is a sensational fit. The cultures and ambitions of the integrated businesses are truly synergistic.”
Pedersen said communicating the new BIOVIA brand and the strategy going forward would necessarily be handled on a step-by-step basis – hardly surprising since San Diego headquartered BIOVIA serves around 2,000 clients and Dassault Systèmes works with 170,000 customers in 140 countries.
The BIOVIA brand was officially unveiled at Accelrys’ Accelerate 2014 user conference in Washington, D.C. Pedersen said other events were helping to spread the word about the new brand whose global reach is stunning.
BIOVIA serves world-leading clients including:-
• 10 of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies
• 20 of the top 25 biotech companies
• 7 of the top 10 chemical companies
• 4 of the top 5 consumer packaged goods companies
• 5 of the top 10 oil and gas companies
• 5 of the top 5 aerospace companies
Aside from key innovators and leaders in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, leading manufacturing companies, including Boeing, Toyota, Samsung and others, are using BIOVIA solutions to explore and bring to market new materials, such as smart coatings, lighter, stronger composites, and ecosustainable material innovations.
Pedersen said: “As one can see, the acquisition and Dassault’s plans for future growth are starting from an exceptionally strong base. One of our key challenges is to take that message to all staff and customers around the world. Dassault alone has around 11,000 employees so you can appreciate the scale of the task.
“But word is spreading fast and so is the buzz about the possibilities for the group. It became apparent very early on that Dassault Systèmes shared Accelrys’ principles regarding open innovation, ethics, social responsibility and the search for solutions that would benefit society, such as personalised medicines. It is a very noble mission that we are together working on.
“Dassault’s vision that BIOVIA will deliver virtual scientific universes capable of harmonising products, nature and life very much chimes with Accelrys’ view of the way our business should be conducted.
“The integrated company is taking a long-term, measured approach to growth and pacing our expansion strategy to ensure sustainable success.”