IBM recruits partners for life sciences push

Spying enormous opportunities for its products in the life sciences field, IBM Corp. set its aim on this burgeoning IT field Wednesday by rolling out a set of initiatives directed at business partners.

Big Blue said that it would be recruiting hundreds of new business partners over the next two years, drawing on software developers, resellers, distributors and service providers to make inroads in the life sciences.

The company has already rolled out a number of products aimed at capturing the life sciences market. For example, more than 80 life science applications for drug discovery and development now run on prepackaged and preconfigured server clusters of IBM eServer systems running the Linux and AIX operating systems, the company said.

The company now hopes to recruit business partners that will use and resell its products, in exchange for getting help from IBM in developing business plans designed to exploit opportunities in the life sciences market. The company also said that it would link its partners with bioinformatics software vendors and help determine additional skill and educational training requirements needed to enter the marketplace. Additionally, IBM is offering partners seminars and Web-based courses to fulfill these educational needs.

Citing a 2001 study by Frost & Sullivan Inc., IBM said that the IT opportunity in the life sciences market could surpass US$40 billion by 2004 in pharmaceutical, biotechnology, bioinformatics, e-health, government, academia and other market segments.

IBM's Life Science division has already made alliances with a number of companies working in the field, such as software vendors Accelrys Inc. and LabBook Inc.

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