IBM Helps Startups Set Course to a Smarter Planet in Silicon Valley

SPONSORED CONTENT: With Silicon Valley as a backdrop, two IBM SmartCamp finalists, Coriell Life Sciences and OnFarm Systems, blend entrepreneurship and cloud-enabled IT to help revolutionize their respective industries.

Two startups, New Jersey-based Coriell Life Sciences and OnFarm from Fresno, Calif., are taking very different paths on their journeys to help create a smarter planet. But in February, their paths will merge as both startups head to the global SmartCamp Global finals event in San Francisco.

Both Coriell Life Sciences and OnFarm were recently crowned finalists in the North American SmartCamp event, part of the IBM Global Entrepreneur program. The event was fittingly held in the hotbed of U.S. innovation, Silicon Valley.

Coriell Life Sciences uses advanced analytics to help doctors prescribe the right medicines, and in the right dosages, based on a patient's DNA. OnFarm employs cloud computing to provide farmers with real-time analytics that can help them conserve water and improve yields.

High-tech medicine and agricultural analytics couldn't be further apart as industries go. Yet these companies share one common thread: IBM tech.

As one of the world's most prolific patent holders, IBM is no stranger to innovation or Silicon Valley. (The company runs a startup-friendly Innovation Center in Foster City, Calif.) Now, the IT systems and services giant is helping technology startups bring their own innovations to market by leveraging the company's cloud-enabled, enterprise-grade IT solutions in novel ways.

Innovation Is in Their DNA

Coriell Life Sciences' technology is already showing results. "Better than 80 percent of patients screened with our 23-drug panel find at least one actionable result," said Coriell Life Sciences CEO Scott Megill. The cost-savings, not to mention the life-saving potential of the platform is staggering.

"Prescription medicine global costs annually top $850 billion. Drugs don't work for all individuals," revealed Megill. For example, "27 percent of the world's population can't metabolize Plavix, the second best-selling drug in the world." Worse, he explained, "Adverse reactions are the fifth leading cause of death, the fourth leading cause of all hospitalizations."

Today, the company is poised to help reverse the current state of affairs. Coriell Life Sciences, said Megill, was "built upon six years of research to provide a genetic diagnostic that can inform doctors what drugs will work for their patients and which might be dangerous—all delivered in a simple way that doesn't require the physician to become geneticists in order to use."

IBM's WebSphere Business Process Management system serves as Coriell Life Sciences' "core orchestration engine for all transactions between health care providers, genomic sequencing labs and genome interpretation providers," said Megill. "DB2 is the central warehouse for process state management and storage of genome data," he added.

Security and role management are managed by Tivoli directory services. The entire platform "is hosted on the IBM SoftLayer cloud," Megill told eWEEK. His company plans "to provide a more robust data interchange layer with our partners and customers" by adding WebSphere Message Broker to the mix.

Harvesting Breakthroughs

Today's farms are leaving money on the table, according to Lance Donny, CEO of OnFarm Systems. He told eWEEK, "Weather and predictive data today have significant flaws; IBM's technology will allow OnFarm to significantly address these shortcomings for farmers everywhere."

"Better insight and prediction capabilities can help growers save an average of 10 percent of their water and fertilizer use while increasing crop yields," added Donny. OnFarm's cloud takes into account a host of factors, including weather data and satellite imagery, to provide farm-based businesses with these insights.

Already, there are some encouraging signs of progress. OnFarm is currently being used by growers in California, Arizona, Washington and Texas. While it's a little early for documented results, "initial reviews support better decision-making and productivity," Donny said. The company plans on implementing Cognos, IBM's business intelligence and performance management platform, and SoftLayer cloud to extend its capabilities.

Learn More

Coriell and OnFarm are the two North America-based startups competing at the IBM SmartCamp Global Finals event in San Francisco Feb. 6, 2014. Learn more about them and the six other startups from around the world that will go head-to-head for the title of IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year.

The event at the Bently Reserve will bring the venture and entrepreneurial communities together with academics, representatives from government, the press and all who support entrepreneurship for what is positioned to be a phenomenal day of networking and celebration.

Learn more and sign up for this complimentary event.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...