Jim co-founded CDC Solutions in 1974 with Dave Cornwell , working initially from bedrooms that soon morphed to portacabins and garden offices. Dave’s initial idea for CDC Solutions (then known as Computerised Document Control) was to offer document management solutions using DCS Powernet, document management software licensed from Mystic Management Systems based in, well, Mystic CT.
CDC proved very successful in winning new business with DCS Powernet, attracting customers including Unilever, Total Oil and the pharmaceuticals arm of Boots. Early on, though, we realised that although DCS Powernet provided strong document management capabilities, to achieve what our customers really needed we had to augment DCS Powernet with tools based on Adobe Acrobat. CDC developed Acrobat software to assemble large documents from individual chapters and specialist tools to add watermarks to and messages to hard-copy documents. Pretty soon it became clear that we could build a business based on these Acrobat-based tools.
Having been profitable and grown organically since its inception, and as CDC developed its software and attracted new customers across Europe and the US, it became clear that our growth was constrained by working capital. In 1998 we decided to raise venture backing for further international expansion from 3i plc.
By now CDC was focused on delivering enterprise document management solutions, primarily to the global pharmaceuticals sector. Eventually working with all of the tier 1 pharma companies and most of the tier 2 and 3 companies, CDC assembled a strong team in the UK, US, Europe and Japan. Jim was in charge of CDC’s software strategy, leading the development of its two main products: a hyper-scale document publishing system capable of assembling million-page documents for new drug applications, and a system to enforce controlled viewing and printing of critically important documentation.
As CDC continued its engagement with the pharmaceutical sector, Jim worked with the FDA in rolling out early electronic document signature systems compliant with the FDA’s 21 CFR Part 11, and with both the FDA and European regulators on the development of the Electronic Master File (ETMF), building one of the first ETMF viewers compliant with the emerging ETMF standard. With CDC’s software in use by major pharmaceutical companies, the need for software validation and compliance with GxP standards was a constant theme and Jim was regularly called on to support software audits by CDC’s customers.
Meanwhile, to support CDC’s growth further investment rounds were completed in 1999 and 2000 to provide a total of £11 million in venture capital from 3i and Quester Capital Management, leading to sustained revenue growth in the USA, Europe and Japan.
Throughout his time at CDC, Jim was CTO and served as a director on CDC’s board, helping to navigate the dot-com boom, the dot-com bust and eventually the successful exit. The CDC team eventually grew to over 120 people across the UK, the US, Europe and Japan and in a successful exit was sold to its competition in 2003.