Symyx Technologies, Inc. was a company that specialized in informatics
and automation products. Symyx provided software solutions for
scientific research, including Enterprise Laboratory Notebooks and
products for combinatorial chemistry. The software part of the
business became part of Accelrys, Inc. in 2010. Symyx also offered
laboratory robotics systems for performing automated chemical
research, which on 2010, was spun out as Freeslate, Inc.
3 Business model considerations
5 External links
Symyx offered high-speed combinatorial technologies for the discovery
of new materials. Using proprietary technologies - including
instruments, software and methods - Symyx was able to generate
hundreds to thousands of unique materials at a time and screen those
materials rapidly and automatically for desired properties. This
approach can deliver results hundreds to thousands of times faster
than traditional research methods, at a fraction of the cost. Symyx
applied this technology to revolutionize materials discovery in the
life sciences, chemical, and electronics industries.
Founded in 1994 by Dr.
Alejandro Zaffaroni and Dr. Peter G. Schultz,
Symyx' conceptual basis drew from Affymax, Inc. and Affymetrix, Inc.,
which commercialized the use of high-speed combinatorial methods for
pharmaceutical and genetic research, respectively. Symyx screens
about a million materials a year and has produced a product pipeline
with several materials that have the potential to be commercialized in
the next few years. Examples of their discovery efforts include X-ray
storage phosphors for radiography, polymers to speed DNA research and
catalysts for the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, chemicals and
Symyx Technologies acquired Intellichem, a software
manufacturer for electronic laboratory notebooks and, in 2007
Symyx Technologies acquired
MDL Information Systems (originally
Molecular Design Limited, Inc.), a provider of R&D informatics in
the chemistry and life sciences industries, which had been launched as
a computer-aided drug design firm in January 1978. With this purchase
came the purveyorship of the Centers for Disease Control and
NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances
(RTECS, www.cdc.gov/niosh/rtecs), a database of basic toxicity
information on household chemical substances, food additives, drugs,
solvents, biocides, and chemical waste components which as of first
quarter of 2012 contained ≈170,000 entries. In 2008, Symyx sold
non-RTECS portions of the occupational health and safety (OHS)
component of the MDL business to ChemAdvisor, Inc., of Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania. Subsequent innovations derived from these business
components included an enterprise electronic laboratory notebook (ELN)
capable of supporting multiple scientific disciplines.
In 2010 Symyx spun off their laboratory robotics business as
Freeslate, Inc. Freeslate develops high throughput systems for
automating chemical research. In 2010, the remaining Symyx software
business merged with Accelrys, with the combined company being known
simply as Accelrys.
Business model considerations
The concept of combinatory chemistry (outside of bio-tech area) was
the focus of Symyx. The initial Symyx business model was to provide
contract research for large chemical companies at a contract size from
$0.5 Million to $200 Million. The company had initial success in
gaining enough contracts to reach profitability, with small deals with
few initial customers which led to large deals, such as with Exxon.
Symyx then started to sell equipment.
One other key point was the company had to develop new tools and hire
new people when a new project came up because the contract was in a
brand new research area and required different expertise. Therefore,
the research contract business was not scalable. This is seen as the
reason for company failure, even though the company had over 500
patents. Other companies followed Symyx’s path. Intermolecular
licensed Symyx patents on electronic materials and is developing tools
for the electronic materials companies.
Symyx Technologies &
Pharmaceutical R&D: A Synergistic
Combo". July 2007. Archived from the original on 28 September
^ "Automated Research: Not just for pharma". April 2007. Archived from
the original on 29 September 2007.
^ "Symyx buying IntelliChem". bizjournals.com. November 15, 2004.
Retrieved September 17, 2015.
^ "Intelligent Electronic Laboratory Notebooks for Accelerated Organic
Process R&D". acs.org. 2004. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
^ Symyx Notebook, 2008 Archived 28 September 2011 at the Wayback
^ Allen, Mike (2 July 2010). "Shareholders approve Accelrys-Symyx
merger". San Diego Business Journal. Retrieved 3 December 2010.
Accelrys and Symyx merger announcement (from genomeweb)". April