89 North, Chroma Technology's new subsidiary, targets life sciences imaging

July 16, 2009
JULY 16, 2009--Optical filter manufacturer Chroma Technology (Rockingham, VT) has launched a subsidiary to target the bio imaging market. The new company, 89 North (Burlington, VT) will focus initially on high-power light sources for fluorescence imaging, and take over sales and support of Chroma's metal halide-based fluorescence light source, Photofluor II. It reportedly aims to produce "green" products, and to serve microscopy, DNA sequencing, HTS/HCS, RT-PCR and microarray applications.

JULY 16, 2009--Chroma Technology Corp. (Rockingham, VT), manufacturer of precision optical filters, has launched a wholly-owned subsidiary to "develop innovative products for the life science imaging market" according to its news release. The new company, called 89 North, is headquartered about 2 hours' drive north of Chroma (up Interstate 89) in Burlington, VT. It will focus initially on high-power light sources for fluorescence imaging, and will immediately assume responsibility for sales and support of Chroma's metal halide-based fluorescence light source, Photofluor II.

An article in last week's Brattleboro Reformer newspaper reported that 89 North will develop and manufacture environmentally friendly lights sources "that use much less mercury than traditional lights. The new lights also last longer, and the company hopes to develop LED lights that are even more stable and cost effective."

Among the specific applications the company is targeting are fluorescence microscopy, automated DNA sequencing, high-throughput/high-content screening (HTS/HCS), real time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and microarray analysis.

"We've long wanted to diversify Chroma and our product line," said Chroma Technology president Paul Millman. "Diversification will not only help insure Chroma's future but it will also expand the community of employee-owned companies in Vermont." Chroma is an employee-owned company, and Millman pointed out that both of Vermont's Senators, Leahy and Sanders, are strong supporters of employee-ownership . "Most recently Senator Leahy demonstrated his support by obtaining significant financial support for the work of the Vermont Employee Ownership Center," Millman explained.

From its headquarters, the new company will be able to leverage resources from the area including the University of Vermont (UVM) and the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET), a university-affiliated technology business incubator of which 89 North is reportedly the newest member. Chris Baumann, general manager of the new company, said "We are excited to be starting here in Burlington. The resources available through UVM and VCET will be a tremendous asset to us as we move forward."

The Brattleboro Reformer reported that Baumann was in Burlington last week when Senator Leahy announced $1 million in federal money that will be used as seed capital for start-up businesses.

Baumann is a former employee of Chroma who also has served as a systems product manager at Photometrics (Tucson, AZ), a manufacturer of CCD and EMCCD cameras for life sciences applications, and as an application scientist at Optical Insights LLC (Santa Fe, NM), an optics-based technologies for commercial and defense related imaging applications. He also was a postdoc at the National Institutes of Health after earning his PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1996.

For more information please visit 89 North's website.

Reported by Barbara G. Goode, [email protected], for BioOptics World.

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