The information revolution has transformed many business sectors over the last decade and the pharmaceutical industry is no exception. Developments in scientific and information technologies have unleashed an avalanche of content on research scientists who are struggling to access and filter this in an efficient manner. Furthermore, this domain has traditionally suffered from a lack of standards in how entities, processes and experimental results are described, leading to difficulties in determining whether results from two different sources can be reliably compared. The need to transform the way the life-science industry uses information has led to new thinking about how companies should work beyond their firewalls. In this talk we will provide an overview of the traditional approaches major pharmaceutical companies have taken to knowledge management and describe the business reasons why pre-competitive, cross-industry and public-private partnerships have gained much traction in recent years. We will consider the scientific challenges concerning the integration of biomedical knowledge, highlighting the complexities in representing everyday scientific objects in computerised form. This leads us to discuss how the semantic web might lead us to a long-overdue solution. The talk will be illustrated by focusing on the EU-Open PHACTS initiative (openphacts.org), established to provide a unique public-private infrastructure for pharmaceutical discovery. The aims of this work will be described and how technologies such as just-in-time identity resolution, nanopublication and interactive visualisations are helping to build a powerful software platform designed to appeal to directly to scientific users across the public and private sectors.
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