HealthCenter in Sophia : the end

Posté ven 09/03/2001 - 00:00
Par admin

A second wave of lay offs regarding the twelve remaining employees is under way for the former Focus Imaging, a victim of a failed conversion in an e-health cyber carrier.

It really seems to be the end for HealthCenter. This start-up from Sophia Antipolis, specialized in medical imaging and in computer-aided diagnosis, started being in a shaky state last December (see article 'HealthCenter à Sophia licencie 14 personnes!'). After a first wave of lay offs occurred last January (14 people over about thirty employees in Sophia Antipolis), the former Focus Imaging has launched a second wave of lay offs which is regarding the twelve remaining employees. Gérard Milhiet, the general manager is not part of this second lay off process, but he will remain the only one, with no troops, on the research park.Name and strategy changeThis new episode is the result of a failed attempt of conversion. Launched in 1993 in Sophia Antipolis, in the framework of a partnership between the INRIA and the Californian company Focus graphics founded in 1984, Focus Imaging was recalled HealthCenter Internet Services Europe in July. A name change which went with a complete change of strategy at he level of the parent company and its subsidiary. Now, the goal was to become a health 'cyber carrier'. They wanted to ensure storage and transport of the whole health data (images, medical information).But in the meantime, Focus Graphics had bought over by share exchange the Electronic Media Network Services division of Lucent Technologies (45 people and a turnover of $10 million). EMNS is a Web service provider that has big data centers for complex application hosting and the management of call centers. This joint-venture allows HealthCenter to achieve a new activity : to develop secured and integrated infrastructures for e-health services (management of the patient's medical file, transmission of test results, management of chronic illnesses, medical imaging, etc). Such services were accessible 24 hours a day and required the building of an important infrastructure for their setting up.Sophia bears the brunt of the failureHence a big financing need that HealthCenter expected to find on the marketplace when they got listed on the New market. It was scheduled for late September 2000. But they have not been allowed to be listed, since the COB (Commission des Opérations de Bourse) didn't agree. Thus, HealthCenter was caught on the wrong foot. The current situation is a result of this failure. So, in December 2000, the company started to lay off of the whole development team in the United-States (17 people) and to lay off a part of employees of Sophia Antipolis site where was located its research and development service.Since then, Johan Brag, the CEO, who keeps only an honorary title, has been substituted by one of the vice-president, Kevin Mitchell. For the moment, the biggest part of the American teams has been touched (around 90 people in the USA and 45 of them are former EMNS employees). But Sophia Antipolis site, which was supposed to grow up to more than one hundred people six months ago, now bears the brunt of the strategy failure. Late March, there will be only one person left there…

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