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Roche to shut Applied Science unit

170 jobs in the firing line as pharma company reorganises diagnostic presence

Roche - Basel, SwitzerlandRoche is to close its Applied Science unit with the loss of up to 170 jobs in the US and Europe. 

Part of the company's diagnostics division, Applied Science works on advanced research tools such as instruments and reagents for genome sequencing and microarray analysis.

Acknowledging the on-going effect of “price pressure and funding cuts in life science research”, Roche said the unit would be dissolved by the end of 2013 in order to “improve productivity and enhance the market responsiveness of its life-science business”.

The decision is expected to affect approximately 110 positions in Penzberg, Germany and 60 positions in Branford, in the US.

The company will inform employees whose positions will be impacted as soon as possible and said it is committed to implementing redundancies with care and finding “socially responsible solutions for the affected employees”.

Once the Applied Science unit is closed most of its portfolio of products will be integrated within Roche's other diagnostics business areas.

However, several projects have been cut, including the development of a semiconductor-based sequencing system, which did not pass muster and will be returned to DNA Electronics.

Roche has also ended its partnership with IBM for the development of a nanopore-based sequencing platform, citing the high technical risks involved.

The changes will also see Roche's polymerase chain reaction technology (PCR) and nucleic acid product lines (NAP) be managed by Roche Molecular Diagnostics in the future.

Meanwhile, Applied Science's Custom Biotech portfolio, which includes platforms and reagents that are more closely aligned with the firm's clinical chemistry portfolio, will move to Roche Professional Diagnostics.

Finally a dedicated unit will be established to focus solely on sequencing and tasked with implementing a sequencing strategy stretching from life-science research to clinical diagnostics.

Roland Diggelmann, COO of Roche's Diagnostics Division, said: “After thoroughly reviewing the activities of our Applied Science Business Area, we concluded that reorganising our life-science business will allow us to fully leverage the synergies these products have with our existing clinical diagnostic portfolio.

“Roche remains committed to the life-science business, and we will continue to serve our customers with our existing life science portfolio and experts in the field.”

23rd April 2013

From: Research

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