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Germany’s Schott Nexterion Expands By Acquiring Competitor Quantifoil’s Microarrays Unit

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Schott Nexterion of Mainz, Germany, has purchased the microarray division of competitor Quantifoil Micro Tools of Jena, Germany, BioArray News has learned.

Financial details of the transaction, which, according to Janko Otto, president of Quantifoil, closed in August, were not disclosed. However, the purchase does serve to illustrate activity in the microarray market outside of the big players like Affymetrix, Agilent, and Amersham.

Quantifoil is a four-year-old privately held company that produces perforated support foils for use in electron microscopy, as well as creating microarray substrates under the QMT Microarray brand for the fabrication of nucleic acid, peptide, and protein arrays. In addition to surface-activated slides for microarrays, the company also makes chemistry and software. With the sale of its microarray division, the company will continue to manufacture products for electron microscopy.

Schott Nexterion was founded in October 2002 to expand Schott Group’s opportunities in biotechnology. The 100-year-old Schott company is regarded by some as the European equivalent of Corning, the American glass giant that briefly dipped its toes into the pre-printed mass microarray manufacturing pond but retreated after one year while maintaining its glass slip manufacturing business.

Schott may or may not be following that pattern.

“We consider [Quantifoil] an excellent addition to our portfolio, that’s the reason we bought that part of the company,” Irene Schwarz, marketing manager for Schott, told BioArray News. “They are a small company without a big sales organization, but with industrial experience in building good products and new things in the microarray field. With our product line, and worldwide organization, both companies think it is win-win.”

The company is being integrated into the Schott organization, and redundancies “will not be a problem,” said Schwarz.

Neither will be the integration of the product line. Quantifoil, Schwarz said, purchased glass for its microarray products from Schott, which manufactures its own lines of coated and uncoated microarray substrates.

“We supply a lot of people (with uncoated glass) in this area,” said Schwarz. “In many cases, the brand may be different, and another company is coating another product on top of the glass [microarray].”

The purchase is another step taken by Schott this year in a market that the company has promised to develop with an investment of $20 million over the next few years. The company plans to use these funds for the creation of manufacturing capacity, research and development, and salaries as it builds its array business. Earlier this year, Schott led a $12.5 million Series D funding in Madison, Wisc.-based NimbleGen Systems.

Additionally, Schott North America, a US subsidiary, has set up a DNA microarray pilot production project in a former bubble-gum factory in Duryea, Pa. On a job advertisement posted on the Monster.com website, the company was offering a salary of $80,000 to $100,000 yearly for a sales manager with at least three years experience and a knowledge of microarray printing, hybridization and analysis.

At the moment, the company does not sell pre-printed arrays, said Schwarz. And, despite Corning’s microarray retreat, Schott is upbeat about the market potential of microarrays.

“We are convinced that customized microarrays are a growth area,” Schwarz said.

— MOK

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