Armonk, N.Y. — IBM says it will commit up to $100 million more to its new Life Sciences unit to add a sales team, forge partnerships and invest in companies using genetic data.
The world’s largest computer company formed the Life Sciences unit in August with an initial $100 million, three-year commitment. That could double under the latest decision by senior management, IBM spokeswoman Theo Chisholm said.
The recent completion of a preliminary human genetic map has opened a computer-intensive phase of research that seeks to study the behavior of proteins to develop new drugs. IBM wants to invest in these genetic data companies and form partnerships with others that could include joint marketing agreements, Chisholm said.
“We really want to be able to seed the marketplace to make selected investments for IBM,” said Caroline Kovac, vice president for IBM Life Sciences. “We’re pouring our technology into these companies.”
Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM sees possible equity investments as a means to build partnerships and understand the computing needs of companies using genome data, Kovac said.
IBM last week said it had taken a minority equity stake in closely held Structural Bioinformatics and will sell the San Diego-based genetic data company hardware and software.
Genetic data companies often require supercomputers and advanced software to decipher the behavior of proteins. IBM is seeking to build a major new supercomputer to create three-dimensional models of protein behavior.
The Life Sciences unit also is creating its own specialized sales force in the United States and Europe, Chisholm said.