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Agilent and Ambion to Co-Market RNA Products and Bioanalyzer

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Agilent Technologies and RNA producer Ambion have agreed to co-market several of their products, including the Agilent 2100 bioanalyzer, Agilent RNA LabChip kits, and Ambion’s RNA-related reagents.

Under the agreement, the companies will promote one another’s products in catalogs, and will officially suggest one another’s products to customers. The companies have not decided whether they will offer any sort of promotional discount for customers who buy both Ambion’s RNA products and Agilent’s Bioanalyzer, but have not ruled out this possibility either, said Chris Heid, channel/business development manager for Agilent.

The agreement does not involve monetary payments by either company, and neither company will sell the other’s products said Heid.

For Palo Alto, Calif.-based Agilent, the deal is an opportunity to expand the reach of its distribution and marketing efforts for its bioanalyzer as well as the RNA LabChip kits it has co-developed with microfluidics leader Caliper Technologies. “The distribution channels were really synergistic for us,” Heid said. “We have a direct sales force but don’t have any sort of mail order distribution channel. Their primary distribution channel is their catalog, and Agilent can raise its awareness in the biochip business by working on accessing their customers through their catalog, and their e-mail distribution list.”

For Ambion, of Austin, Texas, the deal was an opportunity to formalize an existing arrangement with Agilent. “We had used their bioanalyzer for quite a while and it just made good sense,” said Bruce Leander, president of Ambion. “If customers are asking our opinion, we tell them we use the bioanalyzer for our RNA.”

Ambion also supplies the RNA control that goes in the RNA chip to which a sample is added in the bioanalyzer, Leander said.

On the other side of this loosely symbiotic relationship, Ambion has purchased four bioanalyzers, which it uses to test the quality of its RNA, Heid said. Agilent is currently working with Ambion to add data from tests using the bioanalyzer to its certificate of analysis, a document that accompanies products and certifies that they have been thoroughly tested.

The two companies are also conducting a study to improve the bioanalyzer, Heid said. “We are working with Ambion in defining the software algorithms and key parameters to use in assessing the quality of RNA.”

In the future, the companies may work on other R&D projects to improve their products. The relationship, said Heid, “is pretty open-ended.”

— MMJ

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