San Diego’s Assay Depot Creates Private e-Commerce Sites for Pfizer, Other Big Pharmas

7/12/11Follow @bvbigelow

Entrepreneurs are often advised to stay nimble during the startup years of a new venture, so they can quickly change direction as new business opportunities present themselves. But San Diego’s Assay Depot could qualify as a case study in agility.

The venture that began five years ago as a clinical research organization (CRO) dramatically changed its business plan after CEO Kevin Lustig realized the web-based technology his co-founders had created to process customer orders represented a better business opportunity. “Our first pivot was to build an Amazon.com for the pharmaceutical industry,” Lustig said. Since then, Assay Depot has focused its business on operating an online marketplace where hundreds of CROs list the laboratory services they offer, enabling individual scientists and small biotechs to order “end-to-end” pre-clinical research services.

Now Assay Depot has pivoted again, less dramatically this time, by developing a private version of its online marketplace of laboratory services for Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), the New York-based pharmaceutical giant. The private online exchange is intended solely for Pfizer’s internal use, enabling thousands of Pfizer scientists to order specialized laboratory services directly from Pfizer’s in-house list of preferred venders, as well as hundreds of independent CROs offering their services through Assay Depot’s public marketplace.

Kevin Lustig

The new system, called Pfizer’s Scientific Services Marketplace, began operating at the end of June, Lustig says. Assay Depot, which built and hosts the system, is now working on similar projects with at least three other global pharmaceutical giants, which Lustig says he is contractually prohibited from identifying.

Lustig says Pfizer initiated the project as part of the company’s broader initiative to cut an estimated $3 billion from its $9 billion R&D budget.

In an e-mail yesterday, Pfizer’s Senior Director-Scientific Services, Eric Shobe, says: “The driver for Pfizer’s Scientific Services Marketplace is access and innovation. The broader pharmaceutical research services marketplace is loaded with innovative capabilities that can often be difficult to access, considering the complexity of the services and supply base. So to streamline this process for our researchers, we use the marketplace to fully utilize internal and external capabilities.”

Lustig says Assay Depot’s work for big pharma began at … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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