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WaferGen Wins $1.3M Matching Grant from Luxembourg Government to Expand European Operations

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WaferGen Biosystems said this week that it has been awarded a €1 million ($1.3 million) matching grant by the Luxembourg government to help it expand its European operations, which are headquartered in Luxembourg.

Fremont, Calif.-based WaferGen said that it expects to receive the first tranche of €350,000 in this quarter to help defray startup and personnel costs. The company has begun recruiting sales, support, and technical personnel and plans to eventually establish research and diagnostic capabilities in Luxembourg.

WaferGen disclosed its intention to locate its European headquarters in Luxembourg in March 2010 (PCR Insider, 3/31/2010). It said at the time that it was in discussions to utilize its SmartChip Real-Time PCR system in Luxembourg's $200 million biomedical initiative, launched in 2008.

In December 2010, WaferGen inked an agreement with the Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg to co-develop molecular signatures for diagnostic research and commercial applications using the SmartChip system (PCR Insider, 12/16/2010).

The SmartChip system consists of consumable SmartChips, a nanodispenser, and a thermal cycler. SmartChip disposables contain 5,184 nanowells preloaded with primer content optimized for use with the nanodispenser and thermal cycler.

Though WaferGen launched its flagship SmartChip platform more than two years ago, it has struggled to sell platforms and keep afloat financially.

Former CEO Alnoor Shivji resigned in October, and was eventually replaced in March by Ivan Trifunovich, who at the time was also president and CEO of Helicos Biosciences but has since resigned that post.

The firm has also reported multiple rounds of layoffs this year, and last month reported a 55 percent year-over-year decrease in second-quarter revenues.

WaferGen also recently initiated an "open format" initiative designed to encourage customers to design custom assays for use on its platform; and began collaborating with Integrated DNA Technologies to provide that company's PrimeTime qPCR primers to its customers (PCR Insider, 7/12/2012).