Arizona State University officials say a merger between a Tempe company known for its high powered telescopes and a corporation that is a world leader in scientific test and measurement equipment is the best example yet of how its BioDesign Institute can transfer research into the marketplace.
Agilent Technologies, a Silicon Valley company that offers measurement tools used for everything from testing cellular phones to diagnosing cancer, purchased Molecular Imaging Corp., a company started by an ASU professor and a student more than 10 years ago. Agilent will keep Molecular Imaging’s operations in their current facilities at 4666 S. Ash Ave.
Company officials said they decided to stay in Tempe because of the ties to the institute.
"The merger between the teams is precisely the kind of value that can be created through technology transfer and corporate partnering," said Peter Slate, CEO of Arizona Technology Enterprises, the university’s technology commercialization company.
Slate said he expects Agilent to continue collaborating with the university and he said there are complimentary technologies currently under development.
"The opportunities are endless," he said.
Agilent has 21,000 employees and recorded $5.1 billion in revenue during fiscal year 2005. The company provides electronic and bio-analytical measurement tools to advance the electronics, communications, life science research, environmental and petrochemical industries.
"Our job is to be the measurement solution provider for every engineer and scientist in the world," said Bill Sullivan, Agilent president and CEO.
Agilent’s purchase of Molecular Imaging is even more exciting than Intel’s announcement this year that it would expand and build a new $3 billion semiconductor fab in Chandler, said Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.
"This announcement today is about sustainability and the ingenuity of ASU," he said. "There’s no China or India that will take ASU from us. The human capital at ASU is the key to enhancing ourselves in the knowledgebased economy. We’ll have more announcements like this."
Agilent has facilities in about 30 countries and develops products at manufacturing sites in the U.S., China, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and the United Kingdom. Agilent Labs has its headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., with additional sites in South Queensferry, Scotland and Beijing.
In November 1999, Agilent was spun off from Hewlett-Packard and the company broke records as the largest initial public offering in Silicon Valley history at $2.1 billion.
Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman said the company, which makes two-thirds of its money outside the United States, could have taken its business anywhere.
He said Agilent will bring technology, talent and capital to the city.
Molecular Imaging is known for its atomic force microscopes, used by researchers working in nanotechnology. With the microscope, researchers can view single atoms or molecules that are only a few nanometers in size, and they can produce a three-dimensional map of the sample’s surface.
The technology is helpful in a number of areas including drug discovery, cancer cures and smarter computers. Atomic force microscopes are a significant portion of the $1 billion market for nanotechnology measurement tools. Molecular imaging employs about 40 people.
Agilent’s ticker symbol is simply A on the New York Stock Exchange. Company officials said they plan to increase the number of employees in Tempe, but added it was too soon to tell how many jobs would be added.
Professor Stuart Lindsay and Dr. Tianwei Jing founded Molecular Imaging in 1993.
The two developed the technology in a bedroom of Lindsay’s house.
ASU’s BioDesign Institute employs 500. It has generated nearly 300 patents in the last year.