Austrian tool vendor Tecan and Exiqon, a Danish firm that sells microRNA arrays, have developed an unofficial co-marketing alliance to better reach customers in North America, according to company officials.
The firms will co-market Tecan's hybridization instruments and Exiqon's chips as a complete unit to clients that may be tempted to use miRNA arrays sold by companies that offer products used in every part of an array experiment workflow.
Michael Kallelis, president and general manager of Exiqon's US operations, told BioArray News last week that the company began synchronizing its sales and marketing efforts with Tecan earlier this year, offering potential customers the ability to use Exiqon's miRCURY miRNA arrays together with Tecan's flagship hybridization system, the HS Pro.
Camilo Canel, Tecan's genomics and proteomics specialist in the US, told BioArray News
in an e-mail last week that the company works by recommending the HS Pro and the miRCURY array portfolio together with optimized reagents and protocols.
"In practice, when Exiqon identifies a potential customer who does not have a Tecan HS Pro, a demo hybridization station is sent to the customer's location for processing the microRNA arrays," Canel wrote. "Upon successful completion of the test, the customer is in the position of purchasing a new Tecan HS Pro."
"I think we've sold at least three or four machines through this relationship since the beginning of 2007," Kallelis said.
Canel wrote that Harvard Partners and the University of Rochester are using the integrated Exiqon-Tecan system.
Ralph Beneke, Tecan's microarray product manager, told BioArray News last week that Tecan was preparing an application note on using Exiqon's chips with its hybridization station. He said that more vendors are interested in offering their products for use on automated instruments, like the HS Pro.
He said that Exiqon and Tecan did not have any official agreement, but worked together in goodwill for mutual benefit. He added that he could envision the two firms working out an official agreement in the future.
"We are a products and services company and relationships like these are important," Kallelis said. "I'd like there to be a more formal relationship. The current relationship enables us to co-market and co-sell."
According to Kallelis, Exiqon also sees itself as partnering with "a variety of equipment suppliers" in the future in similar co-marketing deals.
Like other companies without complete offerings in the array space, Exiqon has decided to pair up with another company to sell its products. The approach is well-worn in an industry where smaller, private firms team up in the face of competition from larger companies that offer both content and instrumentation.
"We tend to be a bit more proactive in the US within Exiqon."
For example, BioMicro Systems agreed to manufacture hybridization stations for use with chips sold by NimbleGen Systems (see BAN 4/3/2007
Currently, Exiqon is most active in its co-marketing arrangement in the US. The Copenhagen-based shop opened an office in Woburn, Mass., in 2006, and Kallelis' team has maximized its contact with Tecan's US sales team, which is based in Research Triangle Park, NC, but has representatives in New England.
"We started it in the US," he said. "We tend to be a bit more proactive in the US within Exiqon." He described the European side of the co-marketing relationship as more passive than in the US.
Another Co-Marketing Deal
In February, Tecan initiated an official co-marketing deal with protein array firm GenTel Biosciences. The company also co-markets its HS Pro for use with Agilent Technologies' comparative genomic hybridization arrays (see BAN 2/27/2007
Beneke said at the time that such alliances depend on what Tecan's partners make of them. He said that Tecan benefits when companies recommend the HS Pro to "their customers in service or to purchase a whole system."
"This is something we really value because we can say, ‘Here’s a reference, this kit is running on our system.’ It makes our life easier,” Beneke said.