BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - Geneservice Ltd acquired the gene sequencing facility at the University of Oxford's biochemistry department and said it intends to acquire four or five other university facilities to build a nationwide sequencing services firm.

"Genomics is now commoditized, and there is no longer any attraction for universities in running their own facilities," CEO Tom Weaver told BioWorld International. "We can pick up core sequencing labs and develop proteomics and other services on top. The university gets a lower cost and receives a better service. It can go back to focusing on basic research."

The terms of the Oxford University acquisition were not disclosed, but Weaver said cash did change hands, along with two staff members and a commitment to invest in the facility going forward. It will remain on the university's premises.

"We will pick up the existing sequencing work from the university and aim to grow the business by selling services to the eight other academic labs in the area," said Weaver.

Geneservice was formed in August 2005 through a management buyout of the UK Medical Research Council's (MRC) sequencing facility in Cambridge. That was funded by the management, with no external investors. Weaver said the plan to take on further facilities will be financed through organic growth.

"The people we've spoken to about this think it is a great idea. It has become extremely expensive to keep on top of capital investment and developments in the field. As a former MRC unit, we have a 10-year history as a genomics services provider," said Weaver. "We have a great brand."