IBM debuts its hotly hyped 'cognitive cloud' biotech HQ in Cambridge

IBM Watson Health's Kendall Square, Cambridge location

Cloud computing courtesy of IBM ($IBM) has opened up shop in the heart of the Cambridge, MA, biotech hub today, bringing with it some key industry partnerships and a familiar tech manifesto aimed at commanding a big industry audience.

You can find IBM Watson Health at 75 Binney Street in Kendall Square, the new home base for 700 IBM staffers that plan to rub shoulders with the best and the brightest in biopharma. And they've invaded the world's biggest biotech cluster with a big CRO, J&J ($JNJ), Teva ($TEVA) and others in tow who plan to use "cognitive computing" to go about the business of trial recruitment, drug discovery and development far more efficiently.

IBM calls it a revolution, of course, but if you boil the overhyped marketing points down to specifics, companies are looking to extract some helpful insights on how to run their business from the mountain of health data being brought into one cloud.

Some samples:

  • Icon, a global CRO with 11,300 staffers, plans to use the cloud service to sift through anonymous healthcare data to see where it can best locate a clinical trial, matching patient populations and clinical trial sites.
  • Sage Bionetworks, an open-source R&D advocate, wants to use the IBM service to gather and analyze mass amounts of data that can be used in drug research.
  • Teva wants to tap the technology to build new disease management programs for some mass populations suffering from asthma, neurodegenerative diseases and pain.
  • There's a genomics analytics platform that Boston Children's plans to use for rare pediatric disease research.

Drill through the jargon, and IBM's move today marks another development in the increasingly competitive field of using cloud computing to better direct drug research and marketing efforts on a global scale. Google ($GOOG) has been working with the nearby Broad Institute to develop better cloud computing tools for genomics work. Microsoft has loaned out its cloud computing abilities to researchers focused on Ebola. And a host of smaller outfits are all competing for a slice of this pie.

- here's the release