When organic chemist Anne B. Sayigh and Harvard MBA Josef von Rickenbach formed Parexel International Corp. in 1982, they weren’t the only entrepreneurs who stood to benefit. Their Cambridge, Mass., firm escorts other companies—particularly biotechs—through the maze of FDA regulations that govern the research and production of new health products. In addition to designing, managing, and finding suitable sites for clinical trials, Parexel publishes the U.S. Regulatory Reporter, a newsletter that examines recent changes in FDA regulations and maintains RAPID, a database that identifies potential investigators and sites for clinical trials. RAPID contains information based on patient discharge data, for 121)0 U.S. hospitals. No problem is too big or too small for Parexel: Its 175 clients to date have included Fortune 50 goliaths and three-person startups. Forty-five of the 65 employees in the still-growing firm are scientists from a wide range of disciplines.

Growth factors are ready to sprout, blossom,...

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