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Hoping to Lure Pharma, Biacore to Boost Sales, Marketing Spending in 06; Focus on US Market

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SAN DIEGO — Biacore, the Uppsala, Sweden-based protein analysis instrumentation company, plans this year to invest heavily in sales and marketing, especially in the United States, as it tries to lure pharmaceutical clients, according to a company official.

Fredrik Sundberg, Biacore's director of global pharmaceutical market development, told BioArray News following a presentation at Cambridge Healthtech Institute's PepTalk conference, held here last week, that his company sees this year as an opportunity to build its sales and marketing force.

"We are now going to concentrate on what we have on the market right now because we believe that we have a very well-balanced product portfolio," Sundberg said. "We are expanding the sales and marketing organization, putting a lot of focus on that this year."

Biacore's pharmaceutical accounts currently make up about 30 to 35 percent of its business, the company said. The remainder of its business is in the academic research market.

Biacore's CEO Erik Walldén told BioArray News this week that the company plans to invest 30 percent of its revenues in sales and marketing over 2006. Walldén said that Biacore's revenue was 500 million SEK ($64.7 million), and that the investment in sales this year could be around $20 million. Figures for fiscal year 2005 will be available on Feb. 23, he said.

Walldén stressed that the company already has a sales and marketing force in place with direct sales in the US, major European markets, and Japan, but that investments would likely affect its US team and perhaps some of its distribution networks.

"We are investing a little bit more in the US than average," he said. "We are expanding the number of sales reps, we are changing the structure of [sales] territories. We are also in the process of revising some [of] our distributor situations in the world. We will be going direct in some parts of Asia Pacific" this year, he added.

Looking for Growth in Pharma Sales

Last week, Sundberg said that Biacore was now comfortable with its offering and that no further acquisitions or product launches were planned, although the company is "looking into different [areas], depending on where the market is going."

"We want to focus on that and expand the technology in existing accounts into new applications, but also going to other areas within the pharma business and present the technology," he said.

Sundberg said that Biacore systems, such as the 96-well Biacore 3000, the benchtop Biacore X, and the automated Biacore A100 Protein Interaction Array system, are in place at all levels of the drug-development process with its pharmaceutical clients, from drug discovery to clinical validation. During his presentation, Sundberg disclosed that Biacore systems are being used by Boerhinger Ingerheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Amgen, Biogen Idec, AstraZeneca, and others.

In particular, Sundberg said that there "has been an increasing interest in the protein-interaction array, the Biacore A100."

"Especially [among] major pharmaceutical companies — they are really starting to feel that the Biacore A100 is an enabling technology for [antibody selection]," he said. He also said that companies were interested in the Biacore C, which measures single antibody concentration.

"[Pharma] has incorporated our [instruments] for drug discovery and development," Sundberg said.

— Justin Petrone ([email protected])

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