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PerkinElmer Keeps Its Focus on Cell Analysis Space With Improvision Buy; More to Follow?

This story originally appeared in Biocommerce Week, a newsletter that has been discontinued.
 
Continuing its focus on the cell-analysis space, PerkinElmer said this week that it has acquired Improvision, a privately held developer of cell-imaging software.
 
The acquisition follows PerkinElmer’s purchases earlier this year of Euroscreen Products and Evotec Technologies, which added complementary technologies to the firm’s CellLux and LumiLux instruments for cell-population experiments.
 
PerkinElmer spent about $150 million on eight acquisitions in 2006, most of which were not focused on the life science research space. But its earliest acquisitions this year suggest that life sciences, and cell analysis in particular, is a primary focus of the firm's acquisition strategy.
 
Improvision makes the Volocity 3D and 4D imaging and analysis software that PerkinElmer plans to sell with its high-content screening systems. In addition, PerkinElmer intends to integrate Improvision’s and Evotec’s product portfolios.
 
Mary Duseau, business unit leader of detection and analysis systems for PerkinElmer Life and Analytical Sciences, told BioCommerce Week via e-mail this week that the firm would combine Improvision’s 3D imaging and analysis software with PerkinElmer’s HCS Opera systems and the associated Acapella software from Evotec Technologies.
 
She said this combination “will provide customers with an unmatched range of powerful, easy-to-use imaging solutions for effectively analyzing cellular events – from real-time imaging of live cells to rapid high-content screening of multiple samples.”
 
Improvision’s Volocity allows users to capture and manipulate images of dynamic cell-based processes, and to integrate software and hardware products for the control and analysis of microscopy systems.
 
It has been sold as both a stand-alone 3D-analysis software and as an integrated package with the Volocity Spinning Disk and Grid Confocals. According to Duseau, PerkinElmer has sold the Volocity software for several years as part of the PerkinElmer UltraVIEW live-cell spinning disk system.
 
UK-based Improvision had revenue of roughly £6 million ($11.76 million) in 2006. PerkinElmer did not disclose the acquisition price.
 
Cell Mates
 
PerkinElmer’s acquisitions of Evotec Tech, Euroscreen, and Improvision are part of the company’s efforts to sharpen the focus of its biopharma business around cellular-analysis tools, according to company officials.
 
In early December, PerkinElmer announced the deal to acquire Evotec Technologies for $30.5 million (see BioCommerce Week 12/6/2006). The acquisition provided PerkinElmer with high-content screening tools, particularly the Opera confocal imager, which has significant penetration in the high-content market.
 
The Euroscreen acquisition, which was announced a few weeks later, gave PerkinElmer a greater presence in the GPCR-screening market (see BioCommerce Week 1/3/2007).
 

“We will continue to expand in the cellular sciences space in reagents, instrumentation, and software through organic development and acquisition, and [we] will continue to evaluate each opportunity to expand [the firm’s] portfolio of advanced cellular sciences solution on its own merits.”

In addition to the acquisitions, during the first quarter of this year the firm introduced a number of new reagents that target cell-signaling pathways, including the AlphaScreen SureFire reagent for high-throughput screening of cell-based kinase targets.
 
The acquisitions and PerkinElmer’s increasing focus on the cell-screening field do not come as a surprise. Company officials said a year ago that customers were increasingly embracing cell-analysis applications, and the firm would seek to match that demand.
 
During the firm’s fourth-quarter conference call at the end of January, Rob Friel, president of PerkinElmer Life and Analytical Sciences, said that the firm is “fairly bullish” on the cell-screening market for 2007. “I think clearly that is where the market is going,” he said (see BioCommerce Week 1/31/2007).
 
“The concept here behind our acquisition strategy is to really look for technologies or product extensions that build out the platforms we have,” said Greg Summe, PerkinElmer chairman and CEO, two weeks ago during a presentation at Lehman Brothers Global Healthcare Conference.
 
“In the big markets, we can continue to expand within those markets without increasing our diversity,” Summe told investors at that meeting. This would suggest that PerkinElmer’s acquisitions would remain focused on its core areas in life sciences, including the cell-analysis business.
 
Asked whether this was the case, Duseau responded, “PerkinElmer continues to build on its knowledge of the drug-discovery process and strength in high-throughput screening by seeking proven tools and technologies in the area of high-content screening and bringing them together to create a total solution in advanced cellular sciences. 
 

“We will continue to expand in the cellular sciences space in reagents, instrumentation, and software through organic development and acquisition, and [we] will continue to evaluate each opportunity to expand [the firm’s] portfolio of advanced cellular sciences solution on its own merits,” she said.

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