Publishing giant Macmillan buys Israeli start-up

BioData Ltd. has been acquired by Macmillan Publishers Ltd in deal worth $5 million to $10m.

By GALI WEINREB
January 3, 2011 22:41
2 minute read.
The Jerusalem Post

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Israeli start-up BioData Ltd. has been acquired by Macmillan Publishers Ltd. The deal is worth $5 million to $10m. for more than half of BioData’s shares, reflecting a company value of up to $20, people familiar with the matter told Globes. BioData declined to comment on the figure.

Macmillan, which publishes Nature and Scientific American, is seeking to expand into new fields. The acquisition of Bio-Data is part of its new venture, Digital Science, which is aimed at providing world-class software tools and services to scientists, managers and investors to make their research more productive through the use of technology.

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BioData CEO Jonathan Gross founded the company in 2007 and financed it with help from his friends and family. “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 has academic information sites.

“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,” Digital Science managing director Timo Hannay said.

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.”

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

“The negotiations with Digital Science were not always simple, because it’s a large company and we’re a small Israeli start-up,” Gross said. “Nevertheless, 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 didn’t raise capital from them, although we considered it.”

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