Editor’s note: RTP Beat is a regular feature on Thursdays.Bioinformatics software provider Incellico has returned to its roots. Originally founded in Boston in 2000, the company moved to Research Triangle later that year. Now it’s back in Beantown, following an acquisition by Cambridge, Mass.-based Genstruct, a bioinformatics firm that helps pharmaceutical companies speed the drug discovery process.

In an all-stock transaction, Genstruct acquired Incellico’s “Cell” software platform, which integrates different data sets onto the same platform and automates the interpretation of data to determine the relationship between specific genes and diseases, four employees and some additional assets relating to “Cell.” Two of the four employees, including Incellico co-founder and president John Wilbanks, have been hired full time and will relocate to Cambridge. Prior to the acquisition, Genstruct had 11 employees.

“We felt their platform was quite appropriate for what we’re doing,” says Elliston. “Their architecture is a smooth mesh with ours. It was a no-brainer. It’ll accelerate what we’re doing by six to 12 months. We’ll be a little ahead of the curve in terms of providing a capability that you have to create a demand for.”

Elliston says the current financing environment enabled the company to acquire the technology, not just license it.

Genstruct is a two-year-old research discovery company that uses different tools and techniques to determine how drugs affect biological systems. It develops discovery partnerships with large pharmaceutical companies to evaluate and identify mechanisms of actions for their compounds to accelerate drug discovery. Its trademarked “Molecular Epistemics” approach applies biological knowledge to genomic, metabolic and proteomic data.

“We’re using the platform to get to the end product,” says Elliston. “That means creating drugs, faster and cheaper. We’re enabling the development of therapeutics. It’s a new way of applying technology.”

Securing funding

“Merging the cutting-edge technology created at Incellico into Genstruct, a company that has a larger group of investors, will enable the company to build out an end-to-end solution in the biological area,” says Art Pappas, chairman and CEO of venture firm A.M. Pappas. “We’re excited that Keith Elliston is there. He has experience in the area, and he has good vision. “

Following the acquisition of Incellico’s assets, Genstruct secured a series A round of financing. Details have yet to be announced. Pappas says A.M. Pappas participated in the round.

Pappas first met Elliston in 1997, when Elliston was at Gene Logic in Gaithersburg, Md. Pappas invested in the firm, which then went public.

Durham-based Incellico raised a total of approximately $7 million from A.M. Pappas and individual investors over its three-year life. At its peak, the company had almost 30 employees.

WindChannel launches division, provides Wi-Fi

Fixed wireless broadband provider WindChannel Communications will announce today the launch of a new division, SitSpot Wireless. SitSpot Wireless sets up wireless networks for retailers, such as restaurants, cafes and hotels, enabling them to provide wireless high-speed Internet access to their customers. That means clients can surf the Internet on their laptop while sipping their cappuccino. WindChannel plans to have high-speed access points or ‘hotspots’ throughout the region under the SitSpot brand by the end of 2003.

Local cafes and restaurants such as Bear Rock Cafe, the Blue Coffee Company in Durham, the Capital City Club, Finch’s Restaurant and Raleigh-based Helios are already offering Wi-Fi to clients.

An article in the current issue of Wired speculates that the best way for retailers to make money from Wi-Fi is to give it away. The author of the article, Paul Boutin, writes: “Giving away wireless broadband saves on billing costs, attracts customers and creates an instant competitive advantage.”

Down the road, however, Boutin speculates, Wi-Fi won’t be so much a value-add, as a must-have.

Musical chairs

Health care reporter Sabine Vollmer has left the Triangle Business Journal. Sources close to Ms. Vollmer say she’ll be joining The News & Observer.