Life Tech acquires Advanced Microscopy Group

Acquisition establishes foundation for new product innovation in fluorescent and brightfield imaging devices

Jeffrey Bouley
CARLSBAD, Calif.—Life Technologies Corp. announced inNovember the acquisition of Advanced Microscopy Group (AMG), a privately helddeveloper of imaging systems for research microscopy incorporated as WestoverScientific Inc. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
 
 
Earlier this year, in February, after what it called "a yearof whirlwind success," AMG was recognized by Thermo Fisher Scientific at the2012 Thermo Fisher Scientific National Sales Meeting as the North AmericanVendor in 2011. At the time, AMG couched the award as "a clear message fromThermo Fisher Scientific that AMG is the brand to beat in the microscopy world."
 
 
One could take that, in combination with the recentacquisition decision by Life, to represent an "if you can't beat 'em, acquire'em" philosophy on the part of the acquiring company, but Life—already a hugeplayer in the imaging and reagents space—sees it more as a natural progression.
 
 
"The guys at AMG manufactured our FLoid Cell ImagingStation, so we started working with them in the first half of 2010," recallsBrett Williams, vice president and general manager of Flow Cytometry andImaging at Life. "That was the first project we had worked with them on. Overthe course of that work, we came to appreciate that the two companies had somesimilarities and their benchtop instrumentation very much aligned with ourphilosophy and goals. So, we had a very natural process of coming together overtime."
 
 
Life notes that the AMG acquisition will enable it to expandits product line of cell imaging instrumentation, while leveraging itsMolecular Probes portfolio of fluorescent dyes and reagents. The acquisitionalso provides new product development opportunities for both laboratory andportable imaging devices, Life notes, adding that its Molecular Probes range offluorescent dyes and probes are broadly used in the research market and"constitute a natural complement" to the EVOS line of microscopes manufacturedby AMG. 
 
"Our acquisition of Advanced Microscopy Group bringstogether two leaders in the cell imaging field," said Peter Dansky, presidentof Molecular and Cell Biology at Life, in the news release about the deal."With AMG's demonstrated excellence in innovative microscopy instrumentationand the Molecular Probes line of market-leading imaging reagents, we're nowbetter able to serve our customers with a complete portfolio of integratedsolutions for cell analysis optimized for performance and ease of use."
 
 
AMG has a portfolio of imaging instruments that ranges frombasic to advanced microscopy. The EVOS line, notably, has in part been designedto improve ease of use by eliminating conventional eyepieces and replacing themwith LCD screens. Two entry-level microscopes, EVOS XL and EVOS XL-Core,address the tissue culture market for routine monitoring of cell culturethrough measurements of cell density and morphology. The instruments arebrightfield- and phase contrast-enabled and come with a range of magnificationlens options. The EVOS FL, for its part, is a multicolor fluorescent microscopewith brightfield/phase contrast capabilities and a range of objective options,Life notes.
 
 
"Ultimately, it is our customers who will benefit most fromthe breadth of the combined portfolios. It also uniquely positions Life in thecell imaging field and will serve as the foundation for the development of newapplications and products," said Steve Lytle, founder and president of AMG, ofthe deal when it was first announced.
 
Life also stands to benefit a great deal, given estimatesthat the microscopy market will soon be approximately $770 million, but thepayoff for Life is more than that, Williams tells ddn.
 
 
"What we're doing as a business is shifting from morereagents-only play to systems play," he explains. "In part, that will driveconsumption of high-value reagents. But more than that, we've released fourbenchtop instruments in the past three years and created a space in the marketthat largely didn't exist. We have a philosophy of democratizing the benchtopspace, and we don't see why reagents, instruments or the interfaces on thoseinstruments should be overly complex. We want to make imaging easier."
 
 
The acquisition of AMG is expected to be neutral to Life's2012 earnings, accretive to 2013 earnings and accretive to the company'soverall return on invested capital by 2015.
AMG's existing business will remain in Bothell, Wash., andwill join Life's Flow Cytometry and Imaging business unit.
 
"We're really looking to add to our portfolio," Williams says. "We'regoing to keep the site and the people where they are because it's a productinnovation-based team and that very much complements our strategy. Around 20 percentof our revenue right now comes from products released in the last three years.We strive for product innovation excellence and that's something the folks atAMG can deliver for us."

 

Jeffrey Bouley

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