Intellectual Ventures Inks India Deal, Ontela Teams with T-Mobile, MDRNA Nabs $7.25M, & More Seattle-Area Deals News

3/24/09Follow @gthuang

It was a quiet week for deals in the Northwest, with a few partnerships formed in software, biotech, and intellectual property.

—Bothell, WA-based MDRNA (NASDAQ: MRNA), a developer of RNA interference technology for drug development, agreed to license its technology non-exclusively to Novartis in exchange for $7.25 million in upfront fees, as Luke reported. MDRNA also signed a separate deal that gives Novartis an exclusive period in which to form a larger R&D collaboration with MDRNA. Terms of that deal were not disclosed.

—Intellectual Ventures, the Bellevue, WA-based invention firm, inked an agreement with the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay to license some of the university’s technologies, and to work with its researchers on commercialization strategies. Financial terms were not announced. Intellectual Ventures has similar deals in place with other institutes in Asia, but IIT-Bombay is a particularly prestigious university specializing in electronics, software, and materials, and the partnership epitomizes the firm’s broader strategy to support the invention process around the world—and profit from it.

—Seattle startup Ontela, a maker of photo-sending software for camera phones, has teamed up with T-Mobile to offer its service via the photo-sharing website Photobucket. T-Mobile subscribers can sign up to have their pictures sent automatically from their BlackBerry smartphone or other handheld device to the photo site. Ontela’s software is now available to about half of all U.S. mobile-phone subscribers, and comes pre-installed on four of the top five handset manufacturers.

—Seattle-based Evri, a startup that makes novel Web browsing software, formed a partnership with The Times of London to provide a widget that recommends related articles when a reader clicks on a story of interest. Financial terms were not given. This deal follows a similar one announced last month with the Washington Post, and is part of Evri’s effort to build an audience for its service, which tries to understand connections between people, products, and other entities on the Web and present the info in a useful way. (This news was dampened later in the week when it was reported Evri laid off one-fourth of its staff.)

—Luke reported that Geospiza, a Seattle developer of software that helps researchers sort through mounds of genomic data, received a two-year, $1.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, as part of a collaboration with The HDF Group. The effort will support biological software applications that use Hierarchical Data Format, an advanced data capability made to handle demanding and complex tasks like studying genomes and monitoring climate change.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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