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Automation Industrial Automation Developer Taps Into Genomics

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Pending approval from its board, The Automation Partnership, known for its custom industrial work for various fields including genomics, will launch this month a business unit targeted specifically to the genomics and proteomics market. Temporarily called TAP Genomics, it’s based out of its parent’s headquarters in Royston, UK, and will also have a presence in the US, starting on the West Coast. Rod Westrop, who’s worked for Pharmacia and Lark Technologies, will head up the unit.

TAP Genomics will aim to automate other companies’ medium-throughput technological procedures in genomics and proteomics including genotyping, PCR, and DNA extraction, says Audrey Long, genomics business development manager for TAP. That means not the very highest of the high-throughput business, but also not laboratory-scale projects, either. “Everybody’s really at medium-throughput,” Long says. For processes such as PCR, one of the company’s first initiatives, such automation simply doesn’t exist on an industrial level. “[PCR] is a big bottleneck for everybody,” she adds. TAP Genomics will also pay particular attention to embedding regulatory procedures into its processes for companies worried about GMP or GLP compliance.

To get in touch with the industry’s most pressing needs, Long is organizing various roundtable discussions. Invitees include end users in pharma, genomics, and academics, as well as genotyping technology providers and some manufacturing people. There are currently two planned roundtables — one in Europe and one in the US, probably starting in February — but Long says the response has been so great she’s thinking of bumping that up to four.

TAP Genomics also represents a change from TAP’s established ways. New kinds of alliances might be “more strategic and much more aggressive,” Long says; equity investments and acquisitions will likely be considered, and the unit may seek additional funding.

— Meredith Salisbury

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