Cutting Edge Information, which sells access to specialized business reports, is negotiating with Nortel for additional office space to meet growing needs.

“We have already made 100 percent over last year, and we’re growing explosively,” says Jason Richardson, president of Cutting Edge. He says the nine-person company hopes to expand to 15 or 20 in 4,000-square-foot offices. “We’ve been operating out of cobbled-together temporary space,” he adds.

The company sells specialized research reports primarily to pharmaceutical companies about how much industry leaders spend on new product launches and other insider data. The reports cost between $5,000 and $6,000 in Adobe pdf format.

Richardson says clients use them for several purposes: when they’re looking to move into new areas where they haven’t got a lot of experience; to support ideas they have or generate new ones; and to check out what the competition is doing.

“At the senior management level, they use them to support decisions, as a third-party validation to show their thinking is in alignment,” says Richardson.

Cutting Edge not only provides its wares online, it also uses the Internet to promote its own business. Journalists who check the business and PR news wires daily are sure to see frequent releases from Cutting Edge.

“Using the Internet news release works very well for us,” Richardson says. “More and more people use AOL or Yahoo to track things on the wires. We get a significant amount of business that way.”

Richardson says he keeps putting the releases up because reporters look for stories at different times. “You have to be out there when they’re looking,” he explains.

“We try to make the stories informative, so they’re not just advertising. We think of it as marketing, but they’re designed so that reporters can pull out information to drop into a story.”

The full reports are based on interviews with executives and others at leading pharmaceutical companies. One recent report on “blockbuster pharmaceutical launches” includes interviews with Aventis, Bristol Myers Squibb, Proctor and Gamble, Merck, EMD, Bayer, Wyeth, Roche, Pharmacia, and Pfizer, pretty much the cream of the industry.

A nubmer of the same companies are clients, Richardson says.

How do Richardson and his team of nine get insiders at these companies to divulge the secrets of their business?

“We typically blind the responses so you get aggregate numbers broken down by the size of the company or product, but we take great pains to make sure there’s no company identifying information.

“And we give them a copy of the report,” he adds.

The company’s pharmaceutical pre-launch report includes data on market research spending, organization and strategy, outsourcing, early stage research spending, and quite a bit more. What distinguishes the reports, says Richardson, is that “we explain not just what a company does, but how it does it. We tell them not only that a successful company plugged in another $300 million in the marketing plan, but also where they spend it.”

Richardson adds the reports have to be special. “It’s incumbent upon us to find things that are important to their work. No one is going to pay $6,000 for something they already know.”

Richardson says marketing reports are the top sellers at Cutting Edge, which has “been in the black since our first year.”

Richardson founded Cutting Edge with partner Adam Bianchi, now chief operating officer, in 2002. He says one benefit of the business downturn has been that office space is readily available at reasonable rates and there are lots of deals out there on office furniture.

“If you have the money to survive, this is a good time to go for it,” he says. “We’ve really enjoyed being counter to some of the trends.”

Targacept Gets SBIR Grant

Winston-Salem based Targacept landed a Small Business Innovation Research Phase I grant supporting the company’s recently announced collaborative research with Wake Forest University’s School of Medicine.

Targacept and Wake Forest want to develop computer software designed to predict the biological activity of small molecules, which could have far reaching applications in drug discovery.

Debra Perret, Targacept’s grants specialist, tells LTW, “This is the first federal grant we sought, and with odds of one in 10 of first grants being approved, it validates the strength of our drug discovery team.”

The company did not disclose the grant amount. The National Science Foundation awards the grants.


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