A new support forum for small-to-medium enterprises

It can be a lonely business being a bioinformatician in a small company. It is widely acknowledged that Europe's economic development is becoming increasingly dependent on small-to-medium enterprises, or SMEs (enterprises with fewer than 250 employees and an annual turnover not exceeding 50 million Euros or an annual balance-sheet total not exceeding 43 million Euros). But these lean, mean companies lack many of the support networks that are taken for granted by larger companies. For example, practically every small biotechnology company relies on bioinformatics the science of storing, retrieving and analysing large amounts of biological information for its research, and effective bioinformatics tools are often a key part of business strategy. Yet many SMEs have only a single member of staff responsible for this important aspect of their business, and these key people often have to multitask. Staff in this situation have nowhere to turn within their company if they need to solve a bioinformatics-related problem.

The situation is set to change for the better in October, when the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), Europe's premier provider of bioinformatics services, will launch a unique support forum designed especially for SMEs. The forum has been developed in response to demand from small companies for bioinformatics support, and has been designed in consultation with them.

When it launches in October, the forum will offer a biannual networking meeting, hands-on training, access to technical expertise, and consultancy.

The meetings will allow staff from SMEs to network openly with like-minded people from other companies and with EBI staff, providing bioinformaticians from SMEs with a ready-made community. "The intention is to create an open forum for members to contribute ideas and discuss issues directly with the most appropriate staff within the EBI," explains Paul Matthews, the EBI's Industry Programme Coordinator. "Our bi

Contact: Trista Dawson
European Molecular Biology Laboratory

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