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University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships
University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships

Rubicon Genomics Acquired by Takara Bio USA


U-M start-up Rubicon Genomics , a producer of genomic analysis kits, was sold in January to Mountain View, California-based Takara Bio USA Holdings, a subsidiary of the Japanese company Takara Bio, for a reported $75 million.

“This acquisition builds on Takara Bio’s commitment to provide our customers with a broader offering of genetic analysis solutions,” said Carol Lou, president of Takara Bio USA, in the company’s press release announcing the acquisition. “We welcome Rubicon into the Takara Bio Group and are looking forward to strengthening and expanding our product offerings in the fields of genomics, sequencing, single-cell and clinical applications with their unique technologies.”

Rubicon CEO James Koziarz, a longtime executive at Abbott Laboratories who came out of retirement to lead the Ann Arbor-based company in December 2008, said at the time of the announcement that the acquisition would allow Rubicon to extend its global reach, and accelerate adoption of Rubicon’s genetic analysis tools. “We are excited to have the opportunity to combine our proprietary suite of products with those of Takara Bio Group to provide more comprehensive solutions to researchers and clinical labs,” he said.

Rubicon, which launched in 2000 from University of Michigan, is an example of the sometimes challenging and lengthy path to success for life sciences start-ups. In an article published in Crain’s Detroit Business in November 2015, Koziarz described the company as being “in the valley of death” when he’d come onboard. “The recession had started, and money stopped coming in from research grants and contracts,” he said. And Rubicon, under his leadership, adapted.  In 2009, the company, with a new focus on services and collaborations, pivoted into the test kit and reagent market, and the results were significant. The company turned cash flow positive in 2011, and achieved a growth rate of over 46% by 2016.  In 2015, Rubicon was named on of the 50 small companies to watch in Michigan was also recognized by Crain’s Detroit Business for the strength of its patent portfolio.