Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc
Ridgefield, Conn. (June 22, 2012) Boehringer Ingelheim, in partnership with data science company Kaggle, today announced the winners of its crowd-sourcing competition that asked players to build a model that related molecular information to an actual biological response. The overall winning team of Jeremy Achin, Tom DeGodoy, and Sergey Yurgenson created the best algorithm as assessed by an objective measure of performance and will take home a $10,000 cash prize. Second and third-place winners won $6,000 and $4,000, respectively.
The crowd-sourcing component of this approach assumes that there are numerous strategies that can be applied to predictive modeling, yet it is impossible to know beforehand which one will be most effective.
“Because the chemical search space is so vast, even a small improvement in the predictive power of biological models will be of significant value in filtering this search space,” said Dr. James Baxter, Vice President of Development at Boehringer Ingelheim. “Congratulations to the winners and I thank them for their contribution to the quest to build more accurate modelling.”
In all, more than 800 data scientists submitted nearly 9,000 entries to the competition, which ran for 91 days. Kaggle uses a real-time leaderboard to encourage competitors to refine their solutions and leapfrog rivals. In this competition, players were given 1,776 different variables each representing a molecular descriptor pertaining to a characteristic of the molecule, such as its size, shape or chemical composition. They were also given experimental data relating to an actual biological response. Combined, these were used as training data by the contestants to develop and test their models.
“Expertise in a field only gets you so far; sometimes the answers are buried in the data,” said Jeremy Howard, Kaggle’s Chief Scientist and President. “Given the success of Boehringer Ingelheim‘s experiment, we anticipate this approach to become the norm for the pharmaceutical industry.”
About Boehringer Ingelheim
The Boehringer Ingelheim group is one of the world’s 20 leading pharmaceutical companies. Headquartered in Ingelheim, Germany, it operates globally with 145 affiliates and more than 44,000 employees. Since it was founded in 1885, the family-owned company has been committed to researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing novel medications of high therapeutic value for human and veterinary medicine.
As a central element of its culture, Boehringer Ingelheim has a demonstrated commitment to corporate social responsibility. Involvement in social projects, caring for employees and their families, and providing equal opportunities for all employees form the foundation of the global operations. Mutual cooperation and respect, as well as environmental protection and sustainability are intrinsic factors in all of Boehringer Ingelheim’s endeavors.
In 2011, Boehringer Ingelheim achieved net sales of about $17.1 billion (13.2 billion euro). R&D expenditure in the business area Prescription Medicines corresponds to 23.5% of its net sales.
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Kaggle is the global leader in running predictive modeling competitions. The company has run approximately 100 competitions with major enterprise, government, and academic customers, including Allstate Insurance, Dunnhumby, Ford, Heritage Health, Microsoft, NASA, Stanford, Wikipedia and Deloitte, and it is currently running the $3 million Heritage Health Prize, the largest medical prize ever, to help prevent unnecessary hospitalization. More than 39,000 data scientists worldwide have contributed more than 122,000 entries to competitions that have tackled the toughest predictive problems in the marketing, life sciences, insurance, financial services, travel, and science industries. Kaggle’s investors include Index Ventures and Khosla Ventures. It was founded in 2010 and is based in San Francisco, Calif.