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GATC Biotech to Grow Annual Sequencing Capacity 15-fold by 2013, Increase Headcount

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By Julia Karow

This article, originally published Sept. 10, has been updated from a previous version to include additional information from GATC Biotech.

Sequencing service provider GATC Biotech said last week that it will invest €5 million ($7.3 million) over the next three years to expand its headquarters in Constance, Germany, and to hire additional staff.

The building expansion, currently under construction and expected to be completed next spring, will add about 10,300 square feet in laboratory and office space, more than doubling the company's existing space.

The addition will allow the firm to hire up to 100 new employees by 2012, approximately doubling its current headcount of about 100.

"We urgently need further laboratory space in order to expand our sequencing capacity to 30 terabases per year until 2013," said CEO Peter Pohl in a statement. "This increase in capacity is required to enable us to advance our international expansion plans."

According to its website, the company currently has an annual sequencing capacity of 2 terabases, and is equipped with two Illumina Genome Analyzers II, two Roche/454 GS FLX, and seven Applied Biosystems 3730xl sequencing instruments.

Last month, the company was certified by Illumina as a service provider for the GAII platform.

Pohl told In Sequence by e-mail that the company is seeing growing demand in single-sample sequencing and large-scale sequencing projects, in particular those using next-generation sequencing technologies, as well as in bioinformatics.

Regarding the company's expansion plans, he said it recently signed a distribution agreement with Filgen, a company based in Nagoya, Japan.

Chief operating officer Marcus Benz told In Sequence last week that the company is still deciding what kind of sequencing instrumentation to add. "At the moment, we are evaluating all technologies and upcoming technologies," he said. "We will add new technologies if they are feasible for our lab."

In addition, he said, the company is investing in computing equipment "as well as other technologies around sequencing to increase the workflow."

On the staff side, the company plans to add product managers in particular. As high-throughput sequencing has become more available and the cost of sequencing has decreased, more and more customers are using sequence data to answer biological questions, he said.

"And since these customers are not very experienced with sequencing, because they didn't do that in the past, what we would like to provide them with is a qualified service," Benz said.

The capital for the planned business expansion comes from internal funds, according to Benz.

Privately owned GATC Biotech was founded in 1990 and has sales subsidiaries in the UK, France, and Sweden. The company serves more than 10,000 customers in 40 countries, according to its website.

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