from the February 2011 issue

Publishing giant Macmillan buys BioData

Israeli start-up BioData Ltd. has been acquired by Macmillan Publishers Ltd. Sources inform ''Globes'' that the deal totaled $5-10 million for more than half of BioData's shares, reflecting a company value of up to $20 million. BioData declined to comment on the figure. Macmillan, which publishes "Nature" and "Scientific American" is seeking to expand into new fields. The acquisition of BioData is part of Macmillan's new venture, Digital Science, which is aimed at providing world-class software tools and services to scientists, managers and investors in order to make research more productive through the use of technology.

BioData CEO Jonathan Gross founded the company in 2007. His friends and family have financed the company to date. "We had sales from day one," he told "Globes".

BioData's primary market is Israel, and it has some international activity. Customers include thousands of laboratories, where hundreds of thousands of students use its software.

Macmillan is one of the world's largest publishing houses. In addition to its journals in the natural and social sciences, and popular science magazines, it publishes textbooks and literature, academic literature, and academic information sites. Digital Science managing director Timo Hannay was formerly the director of He said, "Scientific research is at the beginning of a transformative digital age, and BioData is one of a breed of new companies that will be powering it."

When Digital Science was launched last month, Hannay said, "Research is becoming more and more digitally enabled and hence more productive, but the gap between the potential opportunity and the current state of the art is still wide. For example, we still have better tools for managing our personal music and photo collections than we have for managing, tracking and mining professional scientific information. At Digital Science we want to help change that."

Digital Science also announced commercial partnerships with SureChem Inc. of the US, and Symplectic. Digital Science actually learned about BioData during the negotiations with Symplectic Ltd. of the UK, which had earlier considered collaborating with BioData.

Gross said, "The negotiations with Digital Science were not always simple, because it's a large company, and we're a small Israeli start-up. Nonetheless, the atmosphere was pleasant. They spoke our language and, like us, they know what researchers need. It was much easier for us to explain our product to them than to venture capital funds, for example, which is also why BioData did not raise capital from them, although we considered it."

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report February 2011

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