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Coming together as one
BOZEMAN, Mont.—Golden Helix Inc. and South Bend, Ind.-based Progeny Software LLC. in mid-December announced integration of their complementary products: Progeny's Lab and Golden Helix's SNP & Variation Suite.
Combining Progeny's data management and Golden Helix's data analysis applications into one interface creates efficiencies for researchers working with genotype and copy number variation data, say the companies. The idea for the collaboration, which already offers integration to mutual customers, began with conversations about the possibility of using Progeny's European distribution system, says Golden Helix. Progeny Europe is now Golden Helix's exclusive European distributor.
The software integration makes sense, says Andy Ferrin, vice president of sales and business development at Golden Helix, because the companies work in nearly identical markets and share customers. "Progeny has excellent technology for storing and managing genetic data, but with very little analysis capability. On the other hand, we are very strong in analysis, but with limited data management functionality," Ferrin notes. Both companies received requests for more comprehensive products, helping prompt the collaboration.
Michael Brammer, Progeny's CEO, sees the joint work and integrated products bringing maturity to two relatively small companies. Industries like banking have plenty of automated tools, he says, but tools for research scientists are a niche market. Saving time has become a key concern for customers, and the integration means data travel from Progeny storage to Golden Helix analysis, then back to Progeny for storage and recording. "Certainly what kind of spurred the whole thing to begin with is that in dealing with customers, with the current product that we've got, they're always looking at ways to maximize their efficiency," says Brammer.
Efficiency becomes a larger concern for researchers as datasets grow, so the collaboration has provided quick results. "Our strategy here is not to wait," says Josh Forsythe, director of marketing at Golden Helix. Several employees at each company have been working on the integration, incorporating and rolling out changes as they're ready. One early achievement was a button to push for exporting data from Progeny to Golden Helix, eliminating the need to reformat data manually.
In terms of markets, Forsythe says the integrated product is helpful for anyone conducting large, complex genetics studies and/or multiple studies, implying growing markets, and Brammer points to existing Progeny customers in 65 countries with more than 1,200 unique sites. "From that standpoint, it's a really wide base, it's a lot of research institutions, hospitals, and some pharmaceutical companies," says Brammer.
For marketing, Brammer says, "I think the advantage in new customers is that they now look at a complete solution rather than more of a fragmented approach, so for them it's easier to justify the whole start-to-finish solution rather than piecing it together." Progeny's current client base is heavily oriented toward research institutions, but Progeny sees new possibilities, too. "I think certainly it resonates a little better with the pharmaceutical companies," says Brammer.
Brammer also emphasizes that the Golden Helix-Progeny integrated product isn't "the end-all," but a natural progression that's continually evolving, thanks to customer feedback and new relevance from new types of data, like copy number variations. Forsythe agrees and says Golden Helix, a collaborative company that enjoys working with customers, foresees "even more streamlined workflow. Our vision is one interface that they have to go to, not multiple products."