This automation step is a new application for the Symyx Benchtop System, which won the Association for Laboratory Automation's 2007 New Product Award. The system automates parallel processing of multiple steps of experimental procedures to speed up pharmaceutical R&D. The company believes this lab automation market is growing "as companies seek to lower cost per experiment and have better control of R&D data and processes." Automating some of the more laborious and/or tedious tasks in drug discovery also frees up time for scientists to concentrate on more in-depth experiments. This new solubility application from Symyx aims to do just that and integrates solid powder and liquid dispense on the same platform with weighing capabilities. Each benchtop comes with a number of configurations and applications as standard. According to the company, these include miniaturised materials preparation capabilities (dispensing capabilities for low viscosity aqueous and organic solutions, viscous vehicles, and powder materials), sample processing capabilities (heating, cooling, mixing, and filtration), sample analysis capabilities (weights, pH, imaging), and automated instrument control. Symyx have also run several collaborations to try and improve their products with pharma companies, such as Merck & Co. and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Two weeks ago, Symyx also unveiled plans to buy MDL Information Systems from Elsevier for $123m (€91m), so that it could boost its informatics business. For that, Symyx gets the infrastructure-related software applications and databases of MDL, while the content assets of MDL were retained by Elsevier, including CrossFire Beilstein, the Patent Chemistry Database, Gmelin and PharmaPendium. Elsevier wanted to keep these areas of the business as it "sees considerable opportunities in the pharma biotech sector and will capitalise on these through a content-led approach, providing for researchers essential content linked to new R&D and productivity tools." Just a few days ago, Elsevier announced that the CrossFire Beilstein database would soon exceed ten million compounds, having reached the ten million reactions milestone a year earlier.