What 2010 holds for the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries is still unknown but, if “LabAuto2010” is any indication, this year will see a return to better times, not the heady days experienced earlier this decade but definitely not a repeat of 2009, which was somber and full of uncertainty.
From new companies like Microsonics, Douglas Scientific, and Biocius Life Sciences to industry vanguards like Thermo Fisher Scientific, Caliper Life Sciences, Beckman Coulter, and PerkinElmer almost everyone agreed the vibe at the meeting was exhuberant. As presentations filled to capacity (there were over 4,100 people in attendance) and the exhibit hall buzzed with activity, 2009 seemed like a distant memory.
Integration was a significant theme at ALA’s “LabAuto2010”. Booth after booth showcased integrated offerings that bundled together two, or sometimes more, products from different companies designed to address roadblocks and bottlenecks plaguing scientists involved in a wide range of projects. Examples of collaborative solutions included Capit-All, which removes and replaces screw caps on 96-format storage tubes and features components from Thermo Scientific and The Automation Partnership, and Artel’s MVS® Multichannel Verification System, which was demonstrated at the meeting with automated liquid handlers from Tecan and Hamilton.
China was another oft-repeated topic at “LabAuto2010”. “China, China, China” Nick Roelofs, president of Agilent’s life sciences group, responded when asked about future growth areas for Agilent. Not surprisingly, he wasn’t the only one expressing optimism about China. Cisbio Bioassays reported that its recent establishment of sales operations in China and South Korea was already paying off, and Cyntellect announced new distribution deals that will expand its sales and support network to China, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
And finally, as would be expected at one of the industry’s most anticipated meetings, new products were introduced. Hamilton, which prides itself on a continuous stream of novel technical entries, likely unveiled the greatest number of new products—eight in total--including a cell imager for the Microlab Star and a rack runner. Other notable launches included Caliper’s Sciclone G3, which reportedly provides a simple and speedy method for tube-to-plate transfer; RTS’ Tube Auditor instrument; Qiagen’s QIAsymphony AS, which extends the capabilities of the QIAsymphony SP sample-purification system; and LabCyte’s two precalibrated liquid class packages for use with its Echo® acoustic dispensers and POD™ 810 plate assemblers.