Google VC-backed startup plays 'Moneyball' in Big Pharma partnerships

As large drugmakers embrace collaborations to ease various R&D pains, a software upstart has emerged with analytics that give biotech and pharma leaders insights into how well their external partnerships are performing.

The Cambridge, MA-based startup Wingu has already started working with some initial biopharma groups that are using its software, tech columnist Scott Kirsner wrote in The Boston Globe. Google Ventures, the VC unit of Google ($GOOG), and Borealis Ventures are backing the largely clandestine startup, which was co-founded by entrepreneurs Nick Encina and Brian Gilman.

Drugmakers are farming out large chunks of R&D nowadays to strategic partners such as contract research organizations and small drug developers, and there is demand for analytic tools that enable them to keep an eye on the progress of their projects with external collaborators. Wingu's software-as-a-service product allows biopharma groups to analyze key data from partnerships and gauge how well the tie-ups are faring. "It's like 'Moneyball' for pharma," Encina told the Globe

"Pharma companies are under pressure to reduce the cost and time of developing new drugs, so they're working with all these external partners," Encina told Kirsner. "What we're trying to do is create a software-as-a-service environment where you're exchanging data, tasks and timelines, and where the pharma company can tell which projects are going well."

Encina isn't the first person to invoke the "Moneyball" comparison for biotech data analytics. The term was used in December to describe a data-mining tool developed by Harvard researchers to divine hidden patterns from large data sets.  

- check out report in The Boston Globe