A SCOTTISH company that helps speed up medical research has signalled “substantial growth” after winning its biggest ever contract in a deal it says will facilitate biomedical research on an “unprecedented scale.”

Aridhia, set up in 2007 by Scots software entrepreneur David Sibbald, said its three-year, six-figure deal with a university teaching hospital linked to one of the largest hospitals in the Netherlands would lead to the creation of at least ten new jobs and would help accelerate up to 1,600 clinical research projects into a range of conditions.

“It’s brilliant,” said chief executive Chris Roche. “It’s a great validation of everything we’ve been building in the last couple of years. It shows other countries buying into something we’ve designed and built out of Scotland. It shows Scotland, Edinburgh and Glasgow as a hotbed of data science that we can export. I think that’s a positive message for lots of people.”

Based near the German border in one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre employs more than 10,000 people and trains more than 3,000 medical, bioscience and dentistry students.

In the first project of its kind in the Netherlands, the medical centre is to deploy Aridhia’s cloud-based data analysis platform across its entire campus to help researchers pull together, analyse and share data from multiple sources such as genomic data, imaging data and medical records. Aridhia’s software platform, called AnalytiXagility, is already deployed in around 40 mostly condition-specific research projects across the UK and Europe. This is the first time the company has won a commission across an entire institution.

“We’ve got some really great individual projects – but this is across the ecosystem of a whole university,” Mr Roche explains. “The research projects could be anything – neurological, genomic, physiological. They might be studying Alzheimer’s, cardio problems or kidney disease. The great thing about this deal is that it goes across all projects.”

It takes an average of 17 years for research projects – assuming any treatments developed pass clinical trials – to get to the patient care stage, Mr Roche said. Aridhia’s platform helps speed up this process by providing all the analytical and collaborative tools researchers need on one platform. Because Aridhia’s product is a subscription-based service that is charged according to data usage, it also helps research projects stay in budget, Mr Roche added.

“By speeding up research, the diagnostics and algorithms that these clinicians build will get into clinical practice faster so patients will benefit from it,” he said.

Aridhia currently employs 40 and is recruiting new roles including data scientists, platform engineers and project managers. The company has secured the contract as part of a consortium to deliver a “digital research environment” to Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre. The other consortium companies are IT service provider Vancis and clinical datasets experts MGRID, both based in Amsterdam.

Mathias Prokop, head of the radiology and nuclear medicine departments at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, said: "The digital research environment is an essential step in research of the future: better structure, documentation, reuse of data and collaboration lead to acceleration of research and increase output and quality.”

The other projects Aridhia is involved in include a £36 million European project involving 36 organisations to bring together data on Alzheimer's disease from across Europe, called the European Prevention of Alzheimer's Dementia Consortium. It is also data partner for Advocate, a European-funded project involving ten different organisations to bring together dental health data from six countries.

David Sibbald set up Cumbernauld-based communications software company Atlantech Technologies in 1992 and sold it to Cisco Systems in March 2000 in a deal worth over £100 million.

He is also the co-founder of Glasgow-based IT analytics company Sumerian, and founder and trustee of the Kate MacAskill Foundation, a charitable organisation providing education, care and micro-enterprise funding for children and young adults in the developing world. In the 2010 New Year Honours List, Mr Sibbald was awarded an OBE for charitable services in Scotland and overseas.