((This NOV 19 story corrects to show Merck is Palantir’s exclusive partner within the JV, not for all of Palantir’s healthcare activities, paragraph 11))
By Ludwig Burger and Patricia Weiss
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Palantir Technologies Inc will set up a cancer data analytics joint venture with German lab supplies company Merck KGaA, as the U.S. analytics and security firm makes further inroads into health care.
The new U.S.-based venture, called Syntropy, will offer cancer data analytics tools to research centers, combining Palantir’s Foundry data platform with the customer knowledge of Merck’s Life Science business, known as MilliporeSigma in North America, the companies said in a statement on Monday.
Syntropy will help medical researchers to structure and analyze data from various sources and to selectively share the insight with external partners, they added.
“Our customers will pay a license fee for a software, enabling them to aggregate and analyze data from highly disparate sources,” Merck Chief Executive Stefan Oschmann told Reuters, adding the JV would not buy or sell any data.
The companies would not disclose financial terms, beyond saying each partner would hold a 50 percent stake.
Known for helping the U.S. government track down al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Palantir does confidential work for defense and intelligence agencies. Private sector customers include aircraft maker Airbus.
“When we choose partners, be it in government or the private sector, we are on their side and want to grow a business together and not with five others,” said Palantir co-founder and CEO Alexander Karp.
“Also in this case, we have no intention to handle it any differently,” he said.
Healthcare companies are investing heavily in data analytics. GlaxoSmithKline in July agreed to buy a $300 million stake in Google-backed gene testing company 23andMe.
Roche has spent $4.3 billion this year buying out two specialists in cancer data, U.S. genomic profiling group Foundation Medicine and U.S. cancer data company Flatiron Health.
While Roche is seeking to harness real-life data from cancer units, Merck and Palantir’s offering will for now focus on clinical trial data and early-stage research, Merck said.
Palantir, which won Merck as a customer in January 2017, said that while the deal would make the two companies exclusive partners within the joint venture, it had other healthcare customers in the public and private sectors.
The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Palantir was weighing an initial public offering with a valuation of as much as $41 billion.
Editing by Thomas Seythal and Mark Potter