San Diego’s Assay Depot Unveils Online Exchange for AstraZeneca’s R&D

Xconomy San Diego — 

San Diego’s Assay Depot, which unveiled an online marketplace of laboratory services for Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) a year ago, says today it has established a similar vendor relationship management system for AstraZeneca (LSE: AZN), the British multinational pharmaceutical.

The Web-based system, which Assay Depot describes as a “research exchange” and “private virtual laboratory,” enables AstraZeneca scientists to search for vendors that provide research services, communicate with experts, purchase services, and to rate and review services. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

While the AstraZeneca and Pfizer systems have their differences, Assay Depot CEO Kevin Lustig says they share “an incredibly large and somewhat complex data base of pre-competitive information about specific services offered by roughly 200 contract research organizations. Lustig says a third major pharma customer, which he is precluded from identifying, also shares the pre-competitive information. Lustig adds that the company is exploring ways of sharing additional information, such as anonymized ratings, across the entire Assay Depot platform.

“These systems have been designed to act as a single source for both their internal [research] services as well as external services,” Lustig says. The underlying idea is to make it easier for pharmaceutical companies to compare their options, and to decide whether and when to move work from internal to contract research and vice versa.

In addition to operating private research exchanges for big pharmas, Assay Depot operates a public network of research exchanges that enable companies of all sizes to hire contract research organizations (CROs). The Web 2.0 system provides listings of specific research services from more than 7,000 global research providers, and automates the process of verifying legal and regulatory requirements.

In the six years since the company was founded, Assay Depot has raised a total of $3.5 million from individual investors and grown to eight full-time employees. Lustig says the company plans to raise an additional $8 to $10 million in what he calls a Series B round, “starting today.”

In the statement issued today, Assay Depot’s CIO, Chris Petersen, says, “Enabling research scientists to access any service and any expert in just a few mouse clicks can dramatically improve productivity, reduce costs, and promote innovation.”