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Genomic Solutions Acquires ProteoMetrics Technology; 40 Employees Sent Packing

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Mass-spec data-analysis software company ProteoMetrics is a shell of its former self. Quite literally. On February 7th, Genomic Solutions of Ann Arbor, Mich., scooped out the five-year-old protein informatics company’s software to form the seed of a new subsidiary, Proteomic Solutions.

Founded in 1997 by Rockefeller University’s Brian Chait and former lab members Ron Beavis and David Fenyö to commercialize their protein identification software, ProteoMetrics has shut its midtown Manhattan headquarters and sent the 40 or so employees it housed packing. The company’s 11-employee Winnipeg office, led by former ProteoMetrics CEO Beavis, will become the new Proteomics Solutions. Fenyö, former CSO and president, will take on the role of director of proteomics at Genomic Solutions, working remotely from his home in New York.

The acquisition began in July as a software co-development deal. “We really were looking to expand beyond just handling mass spectral data,” said Jennifer Krone, who was VP of scientific consulting at ProteoMetrics and is now a proteomics specialist with Genomic Solutions. “Our customers have been asking to bring in more of the front end, whether it be 2D gel or some sort of HPLC separations.”

Genomic Solutions, on the other hand, offered the hardware and software for the pre-mass spec steps of protein separation, from 2D gel image analysis to automated spot picking. What both companies had in common was instrument-agnostic software not tied to a specific vendor’s mass spectrometers.

Meanwhile ProteoMetrics had been desperately seeking more funds. In May, it hired e-commerce veteran Doug Lockyear as co-CEO to figure out how. There were two options: go after VC investment or hook up with a partner to broaden its offerings. In November Lockyear stepped down, “because of several reasons, but mainly because that was his job: to bring in the funding — and that wasn’t happening,” said Krone.

Over the course of the collaboration, an acquisition started looking like a good way to go.

Genomic Solutions entered the partnership with an acquisition in mind. “We had a right of first refusal” to either acquire ProteoMetrics or its technology, said Genomic Solutions spokeswoman Kathleen Murphy. Neither company would comment on the cost of the acquisition.

Since the two companies have been working together they have been developing a new product linking together their flagship software products. Genomic Solutions currently sells Protein Warehouse for sample tracking and data management of 2D gel data. ProteoMetrics brings Radars, a client-server enterprise package for managing mass spec data, to the table. “So we’re now going to be able to offer a full complement,” said Murphy.

PWRHouse (pronounced PowerHouse), as the integrated product is called, could be launched as soon as this quarter, according to Genomic Solutions. The product entered in-house testing this week, “and then it will go to some of our early-access customers — Cornell University and Genencor — a couple weeks after that,” said Krone.

The price tag: $150,000.

— AJS

Genomic Solutions and ProteoMetrics'' Proteomics Products as of 2/10/02

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