BT touts cloud for biopharma R&D collaboration

BT Global has run to the market with a cloud-based service that allows biopharma companies to conduct global collaborations. Built on the British telecom giant's global network infrastructure and other technologies, the service was designed with the changing biopharma R&D model in mind, Bas Burger, BT's president of global commerce, told FierceBiotech IT.

Pharma companies have steered clear of conducting drug research entirely in-house, preferring to work with a constellation of partners such as CROs, small biotech firms and academic groups to advance R&D breakthroughs. BT aims to support this collaborative approach to research with its new service, called BT for Life Sciences R&D. Burger said that comparing the service with an app store wasn't off the mark. And R&D software vendors such as Accelrys ($ACCL) and BioTeam have already signed on with BT to use the cloud platform for their products. Berg Pharma has also agreed to use BT's new life sciences service.

According to Burger, BT's cloud for life sciences R&D consists of about 80% existing technologies that were already under the hood at the company before it began developing the new platform about a year ago. The service builds on significant investments BT has previously made in secure networks, data centers and other IT that support end-to-end telecommunications. This new cloud service includes hardware and software that are specialized for pharma companies, and the infrastructure supports social media tools and secure voice, IM and video communications. Labs can also share and analyze results in the cloud.

BT doesn't reveal specific financial figures for the company's pharma business, Burger says. Yet he was clear about the motives for launching the new service: "The objectives for me within pharma are to grow significantly and above market growth. And market growth is single digits, so you can figure out what our growth aspirations are."

The company already provides services to four of the world's largest drugmakers, including AstraZeneca ($AZN) and Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY).

- check out Bio-IT World's coverage
- read Telecom Tiger's article about the Berg Pharma deal

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