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Bruker Daltonics’ mass spec joint venture in India aims at market leadership

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BANGALORE, India—Eight years ago, when Mumbai was still generally known as Bombay, and India was not yet the breakout market it has become, Bruker Daltonics had already built a successful partnership with their Indian mass spectrometry distributor LabMate Asia Pvt. Now Bruker has moved to solidify the arrangement in order to continue its double-digit growth in the Indian market by the establishment of the Bruker LabMate Pvt. Ltd. company, a life-science mass spectrometry joint venture between the two companies, with customer support and technical expertise hubs in Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai.

"Like a lot of vendors getting started in a new market, we originally engaged a sales agency, LabMate," says Dr. Ian Sanders, executive vice president of Bruker Daltonics. "With frequent visits from our experts in Europe, we developed a very successful partnership."

The new company marks a seamless transition of established business and customer care teams to a majority-owned Bruker company.

"As we grew the market," Sanders adds, "we knew we wanted to enlarge our presence, so we invited LabMate to partner with us in the joint venture rather than throwing the baby out with the bath water."

"We are excited to enter this next phase of growth for our achievements as mass spectrometry pioneers in India," commented S. Viswanathan, an executive director of Bruker LabMate, who together with executive director S. Kumaraguruparan, bring over 40 years of combined experience in scientific instrumentation supply to company management.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Bruker Indian Institute of Science Mass Spectrometry facility in Bangalore in July, Kumar concluded, "This is great news for our customers, adding the full commitment of Bruker Daltonics behind our very long-standing and close relationships with many key Indian scientists."

Though it's not a statistical fact, Sanders is told by many of those key scientists that Bruker has the leading market share in high-end mass spec—TOF/TOF, Q-TOF and ion trap.

In the early days of the Bruker-LabMate relationship, the pair landed some major deals, Sanders notes.

"As we grew, we embedded applications and support personnel," he says, "to build a reputation for support and adaptability."

Early goals focused on having the right people visiting on a regular basis and, due to India's large size, setting up close to customers. Today, Bruker has 15 people who are 100 percent dedicated to mass spec, and about the same number in two other Bruker-LabMate businesses—Bruker India that specializes in NMR, optics and X-ray, and Bruker Daltonics-Mumbai that handles the defense market.

"We have already set the customer care standards in India by which other research mass spectrometry suppliers are judged, and we see it as directly responsible for our success," Sanders says. "Adding to our training and applications strength in India is the logical next move to ensure our customers succeed in this very exciting and dynamic scientific community."

Though there has been "a bit of belt-tightening," Sanders admits—mostly as a precaution—Sanders is looking forward to at least double-digit growth over the next few years.

"Ten percent minimum," he says, "and probably double that." 

The new joint venture will service the whole mass spec market except detection equipment for defense and homeland security. He notes that hand-held mass spec, now used in airport security and to detect roadside bombs—which is 15 to 20 percent of total business—was invented by Bruker's founder, Dr. Jochen Frazen. Although the company's headquarters is now in the U.S., manufacturing and R&D, which is still under Frazen's direction, reside in Germany. 

"Our early growth in India was based on providing excellent customer support, and we plan to continue in that vein," Sanders states.

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