NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – After acquiring a slew of genomics tools companies, LGC's Genomics Division is rebranding itself as LGC Biosearch Technologies and will integrate its customized nucleic acid reagents and tools into a streamlined offering.
LGC Biosearch Technologies will focus on developing oligonucleotides and enzymes, as well as providing specific genomic tools for genotyping, PCR and qPCR, and next-generation sequencing. LGC Genomics VP of Marketing and Strategy Mark Dearden explained that the firm's strategy will allow customers to discover novel biomarkers, whether they're for "SNP genotyping or genotyping by sequencing."
"We are still LGC, and what we're doing is launching a portfolio brand, which is representative of our entire genomic division portfolio," Dearden explained. "LGC Biosearch Technologies is an umbrella brand that brings together the collection of our legacy brands and products we have in our genomic division."
Founded in late 2008 as a division of the UK-based LGC Group, LGC Genomics provides DNA and genetic analysis offerings for customers. Employing roughly 650 out of LGC Group's total of more than 2,500 employees worldwide, LGC Genomics has grown "considerably" in the last three years, said Dearden.
In addition, Dearden noted that the firm's scientists have more than 20 years of experience in delivering large- and small-scale sequencing projects, providing both traditional Sanger and NGS services to its customer base.
"We offer full bioinformatics support and can assist with project design, provide advice on difficult targets and genomes, and assist in [the] generation of a service proposal that drives maximum benefit and cost-effectiveness," Dearden said.
According to LGC Genomics President and Managing Director Brian Kim, the firm began considering a rebranding in later 2017 because of all the acquisitions it had performed over the past few years.
Since 2011, LGC Biosearch Technologies has expanded its presence in the nucleic acid synthesis and next-generation sequencing markets. Some of its acquisitions in the nucleic acid space include Biosearch Technologies in 2015, Prime Synthesis in 2016, Link Technologies in 2017, and Bio Automation earlier this year. The firm also purchased Berry and Associates earlier this week to strengthen its nucleic acid chemistry position.
LGC Biosearch Technologies also acquired Lucigen in February, expanding its commercial footprint in next-generation sequencing sample prep. Lucigen develops methods for capturing nucleic acids for use in next-generation sequencing, offering a range of sequencing services such as finishing small genomes to improve complex genome assemblies.
Kim noted that LGC Genomics selected "Biosearch Technologies" for its rebranded name because the firm believed the title best described the technology that it aims to sell to consumers. In addition, he said that the firm "didn't want to pigeonhole ourselves into any specific technology, as we want to focus on end consumer markets. We're not wedded to one technology, and we don't want our technology tied into the name, but [to act] more like a concept. … Out of all the available names we had, it seemed the most scalable for our work, and we thought it would resonate best with our customers."
Kim explained that the past company acquisitions have strengthened LGC's wide-reaching presence in the European genomics market due to its focus on synthesizing oligos. In 2006, LGC acquired Agowa, a Berlin-based company that now hosts LGC Biosearch Technologies' main magnetic bead-based manufacturing and sequencing tools. In addition, LGC Biosearch Technologies acquired Hoddesdon, UK-based KBioscienes in 2009, which is now the firm's main manufacturing and service lab.
Dearden noted that LGC Biosearch Technologies will use the technology that it has amassed from the companies it acquired to ensure that the toolkits and offerings work together for customers' needs. For example, he pointed out that the firm will combine a master mix from KBioscience or Lucigen, oligonucleotide synthesis toos from companies like Link Technologies, and instruments from Douglas Scientific to address the requirements for customers' sequencing workflows and make sure that the sample prep "optimizes" effectively for different customers.
While LGC Biosearch Technologies is engaging multiple areas with its genomic portfolio, Dearden does not believe that the firm has a true "one-to-one" competitor. Rather, it views a multitude of smaller competitors in the different spaces it tackles with its genomic tools. For example, there are many providers of oligos including Eurofins Genomics, GenScript, Integrated DNA Technologies, and TriLink Biotechnologies, as well as industry heavyweight Thermo Fisher Scientific.
Building on BioSearch Brand
Dearden said that the acquisitions over the last few years has also helped the firm increase its footing in the US, which he noted is a critical market to tackle. He said that the US business is now on par with European business. LCB Biosearch Technologies later noted that it conducts business in other regions, such as Asia-Pacific
Instead of building new locations in the US and elsewhere, however, Dearden said that LGC Biosearch Technologies will keep the acquired US companies' existing sites open for business.
As LGC Biosearch Technologies continues to merge companies it has acquired under the LGC BioSearch Technologies portfolio, Dearden said that the firm will retain some of the recognized smaller sub brands while removing others. Acknowledging that certain firms, such as Bio Automation and Link Technologies, have good "brand equity, with their historic customer bases," he said that they will act as drivers of certain parts of the genomics portfolio. However, Dearden noted that certain product names have stronger recognition than their company names and thus the firm will be pragmatic.
To fully communicate its plans of rebranding the variety of tools underthe LGC Biosearch name, LGC has invested in a marketing campaign involving emailing companies, actively calling customers across different businesses, and updating its B2B e-commerce website.
"Anything that touches customers that has LGC Genomics will be changed into Biosearch Technologies," Kim explained. "However, from an internal perspective, we will work with LGC and continue to use the LGC Genomics division name as we work with our customers."
According to Kim, LGC Biosearch Technologies will focus the main push of its global expansion on agrigenomics and healthcare.
"We help companies like Monsanto and Dow Chemical with seed genotyping programs to project specific phenotypes needed in different regions," Kim said. "They may need help with drought, heat-resistant seeds, and other issues."
Kim said that several of LGC Biosearch Technologies' healthcare customers are involved in gene editing and gene therapy, which he pointed out are all oligo-based therapeutics. In addition, according to Dearden, LGC is a "key business-to-business partner for many molecular diagnostic companies, providing them mission critical components that enable their supply chains," and acts as a contract development and manufacturing organization "for many companies operating in the nucleic acid therapeutics field."
Dearden acknowledged that the firm has dealt with challenges while integrating different sample prep technologies as part of its offering to customers. Because customers want to work with high-quality tools, the firm has spent "a lot of R&D focused on optimization," ensuring that the "master mixes work, that the consumables are lower volumes, and that the tools are far cheaper depending on the parameters" that customers wish to include in their samples.
According to Kim, the nucleic acid business is an "important part of our portfolio, as the nucleic acids are ultimately used to create oligos." LGC Biosearch Technologies plans to offer customers two different options: to either order the oligo synthesis as a service that LGC provides based on customer requirements, or to purchase the "nucleic acid precursors or raw materials needed to manufacture oligos" if they choose to synthesize the chemicals themselves or using another company.
"To imagine a portfolio of value to our customers, we want to provide as much of the reagents necessary to synthesize their own oligos," Kim said.
"The acquisitions we've made … [starting] with Biosearch Technologies, which has its own dyes and conjugates, has been to build out on that portfolio," Kim explained. He said that the firm then "acquired Link Technologies to further increase scaling up its portfolio. With Bio Automation, it allows us to provide physical instruments to synthesize the reagents, and now, the purchase of Berry completes that portfolio."
Going forward, LGC Biosearch Technologies will continue investing internally in the companies it has bought, including their sites, personnel, and IT systems. According to Kim, the individual companies have grown similarly if not at a higher level than before they were acquired. In addition, LGC Biosearch aims to look for new technologies to "fill out missing parts" of its portfolio.
With the oligo capabilities from its acquisitions, the firm wants to provide tools for companies manufacturing their own diagnostic kits.
"For example, if you have a PCR kit, you need to have oligos, enzymes, magnetic beads, and sample extraction technology," Kim explained. "While we currently only have the oligos, we'd like to provide high-quality material across those different component materials, promising customers who are genotyping via PCR that they have the best technology for each step of [their] workflow, or [at least] on par with the best solution."