Ann Arbor’s Compendia Bioscience Acquired by Life Technologies

Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor — 

Compendia Bioscience, an Ann Arbor, MI, startup spun out of technology developed at the University of Michigan, announced today that it has been acquired by California-based Life Technologies Corp. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Compendia, which has 34 employees, was started in 2006 to commercialize Oncomine, a cancer genomics research database that pharmaceutical companies use in the development of new cancer drugs, says Compendia CEO Daniel Rhodes. “It has grown to be a tremendous resource for pharma,” Rhodes explains. “That’s why we’re so excited for this partnership with Life Technologies—they’re the leader in measuring the genome. Together, with our information, they have all the pieces.”

“We’re pleased for Compendia Biosciences as this acquisition will provide resources to accelerate their growth in Ann Arbor,” said Ken Nisbet, who directs U-M’s tech transfer office, in an e-mailed statement.  “This is also good for our regional economy as it further enhances our partnerships with Life Technologies.”

Rhodes clarifies that the acquisition of Compendia by Life Technologies isn’t necessarily a partnership in the traditional sense of the word, but he says he has officially joined the Life Technologies team and will continue to lead the unit in Ann Arbor. While Life Technologies didn’t want to get specific about the number of employees it will have in Ann Arbor, it said it doesn’t anticipate cuts at this time.

Life Technologies, which is a global diagnostics company with close to $4 billion in annual revenues, plans to develop a clinical version of Oncomine that will help physicians interpret individual cancer patients’ genomes to help determine courses of treatment. Rhodes says that this personalized medicine approach to oncology is an exciting new path for a database he helped develop as a student assistant to pioneering U-M medical school professor Arul Chinnaiyan. (Chinnaiyan will serve as a strategic adviser to Life Technologies.)

Rhodes says that the early assistance Compendia received from U-M’s tech transfer office in getting its technology out into the marketplace was integral to its success. Ann Arbor SPARK and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation provided early seed funding, while federal small-business grants kept Compendia moving forward. “I think we have something special here in Ann Arbor,” Rhodes added. “There’s lots of innovation and a burgeoning entrepreneurial spirit that we benefited from in growing the company.”