LGC Acquires Lucigen, Marking Latest Exit for CEO Ralph Kauten

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

Chalk up another exit for Ralph Kauten.

Kauten, one of Wisconsin’s more successful biotech entrepreneurs, is chairman and CEO of Lucigen, a Middleton, WI-based vendor of life sciences research tools that on Friday said it has been acquired by LGC.

LGC, which is based in the U.K. and says it has 2,300 employees, provides testing services, reference materials, and ancillary products to organizations in the diagnostic and drug development industries, among others.

LGC did not say how much it’s buying Lucigen for or provide specific financial terms of the acquisition in its announcement of the deal.

Lucigen was founded in 1998 as a spinoff of Promega, a large life science supplies business based in Fitchburg, WI. In the past decade, Lucigen has sought to challenge big diagnostic firms by developing molecular diagnostic technology to quickly test people for diseases and conditions like Ebola and Clostridium difficile, or C. diff.

In addition to its internal diagnostic work, Lucigen manufactures and distributes genomic kits, enzymes, reagents, and other products for companies like Epicentre, a Madison, WI-based subsidiary of Illumina (NADAQ: ILMN). (LGC said Friday that Lucigen will continue to be the exclusive global supplier of Epicentre products.) Last year, Lucigen received the 2017 U.S. President’s “E” award, an award recognizing American organizations that make significant contributions to the expansion of exports from the U.S.

Lucigen has more than 65 employees who work at its corporate headquarters, and LGC said it “expects to further develop Lucigen’s capabilities and offerings at the site.”

Brian Kim, president and managing director of LGC’s genomics division, said in the deal announcement that adding Lucigen’s assets will likely help LGC expand in the gene editing and sequencing markets.

Lucigen is also viewing its deal with LGC, which has operations in 22 countries across five continents, as something that could provide increased exposure for Lucigen’s products and services.

“Being part of a larger, global group will enable us to further expand our reach to new markets,” Lucigen CEO Ralph Kauten said in a prepared statement.

Kauten was named CEO of Lucigen in 2014 and, before that, he helped form multiple Madison-based life sciences companies. In 1992, he co-founded PanVera, a maker of proteins and drug screening products. PanVera merged with San Diego-based Aurora Biosciences in 2000 in an $86 million stock deal. Another business Kauten co-founded was Mirus Bio, in 1996. That company, a developer of RNA interference drug delivery technology, was acquired by Roche in 2008 for $125 million.