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TechPoint to focus on IT firms specializing in medical, life sciences sectors

October 31, 2009

Long tracking the emergence of information technology firms involved in the health and life sciences sector, the state’s IT trade group, TechPoint, is undergoing a mitosis of sorts to help fuel the trend.

It has created Advancing Life Science & Health Care Information Technology, or ALHIT, which will focus on growing this subset of the IT realm.

ALHIT has the backing of Indianapolis law firm Ice Miller LLP and 30 IT, life sciences and health care leaders.

The first chairman of the group will be Alvin Givens, vice president of Chase Bank’s Emerging Markets Division, in Indianapolis.

Givens said the initiative brings together two of the most successful industry groups in the state—IT and health/life sciences.

“The bottom line is creating new companies and growing” the industries, he said.

Walsh

Health/life sciences in Indiana is estimated to be a $69 billion business.

Exact numbers for the IT industry are harder to come by. Many of the fastest-growing firms in the region are in the software subspecialties of communications, education, financial services and marketing.

A number of ALHIT participants come from these realms, including David Becker, president, CEO and chairman of First Internet Bank; and Mark Hill, managing partner at Collina Ventures and co-founder of financial software firm Baker Hill.

The list of ALHIT participants reflects a certain synergy, Givens said, noting how many of the IT firms are already adept in issues facing health/life sciences companies.

“These guys are used to dealing with personal information,” he said.

Givens said ALHIT traces its roots to two years ago when a number of players in health and life sciences industries noted the potential for IT firms to participate more in their domain.

Many IT firms have emerged to support life sciences companies; others have sprung from IT efforts within those companies. Among them was Indianapolis-based Maaguzi, which originated from an effort inside Eli Lilly and Co. to allow clinical trial participants to enter data via the Web rather than on reams of paper forms.

Earlier this year, Maaguzi was acquired by Boston-based software firm Phase Forward for $11 million.

Health care initiatives proposed by the Obama administration include the expansion of electronic medical records.

“This isn’t going away. This is only going to get bigger,” Givens said.

Indeed, the federal stimulus program, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, has $19 billion in incentives for the development of health information technology and adoption of electronic health records, said Tom Walsh, chairman of Ice Miller’s Indianapolis intellectual property group, who helped establish ALHIT.

“I’d envision us being a clearinghouse for ideas, a venue for companies to interact with each other,” Walsh said of ALHIT.

ALHIT currently has tabs on about 70 IT firms statewide in the health and life sciences sector to varying degrees. But it’s likely to uncover more as part of an ongoing survey.

TechPoint’s CEO, Jim Jay, has long observed growth among IT companies connected to the medical/life sciences sector and said ALHIT will be a complement to other medical initiatives. Among participants in ALHIT is David Johnson, president of life sciences initiative BioCrossroads. Both BioCrossroads and TechPoint are among the industry groups under the umbrella of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership.

Jay likens the correlation between health/life sciences companies and IT to that of Indiana manufacturing and logistics firms.

“Both … are viable industries in their own rights, but each is enhanced by the success of the other,” Jay said in a statement.

Besides continuing to survey the universe of IT companies in Indiana with potential in health/life sciences, ALHIT will tap the medical industry to explore unmet needs that could be filled by information technology firms.

Among the other participants in ALHIT are Darren Carroll, senior managing director of Lilly, and Tom Penno, chief operating officer of the Indiana Health Information Exchange.

Another focus of ALHIT will be to uncover research in academia and in the private sector ripe for commercialization and to help secure venture capital and other funding.•

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