SYDNEY - A company that specializes in organizing the vast amounts of genomic and biochemical data now being collected is set to receive an investment of about A$2 million (US$1.16 million) from the fund Biotechnology Investments Ltd., of London.

EnCompass Bioinformatics Pty. Ltd., being set up now in Sydney, is a commercial spin-off from an existing collection of databases known as the Australian National Genomic Information Service (ANGIS), based at the University of Sydney. ANGIS was started in 1991 as an information service for Australian research institutions.

EnCompass will specialize in providing the software tools and search engines for companies outside Australia to trawl and analyze, for their own research, the publicly available information collected by ANGIS. Tim Littlejohn, CEO of EnCompass, said the major pharmaceutical companies have developed their own systems for researching data on genes and biological compounds.

But he believes his company has a market niche in offering the tools and means of analyzing data to independent research labs and companies. Because EnCompass, unlike major pharmaceutical companies, has to deal with a wide range of users, its software tools have to be readily useable, especially for the occasional user. The company also has to deal with problems not encountered by the major systems, such as sending large amounts of biotech information over the Internet.

All the information to be analyzed is already publicly available. The company will add value by providing, on its own computers, the ability for researchers to search and organize that data, Littlejohn said. *