TECHNE Corporation (NASDAQ: TECH), incorporated in Minnesota in 1981, is a holding company which has two wholly-owned operating subsidiaries: Research and Diagnostic Systems, Inc. (R&D Systems) located in Minneapolis, Minnesota and R&D Systems Europe Ltd. (RDSE) located in Abingdon, England. Over 95% of TECHNE's revenues are derived from products developed and manufactured in-house.
R&D Systems is a specialty manufacturer of biological products. It has two operating divisions: Hematology and Biotechnology. The Hematology Division develops and manufactures hematology controls, which are used in hospitals and clinical laboratories to check the accuracy of blood analysis instruments. The Biotechnology Division develops and manufactures biotechnology products including purified proteins (cytokines) and antibodies that are sold primarily to the research market, and assay kits which are sold to the research and clinical diagnostic markets. RDSE sells and distributes Techne's biotechnology products in Europe.
R&D Systems was founded and incorporated in 1976 in Minneapolis, Minnesota and was acquired by TECHNE in 1985. In 1977 R&D Systems introduced its first product, a Platelet-Rich-Plasma control. In 1981 R&D Systems was the second manufacturer in the world to release a Whole Blood Control with Platelets, thereby establishing itself as one of the leaders in the field of hematology control products manufacturing. Subsequently, R&D Systems has developed several types of hematology controls designed to keep pace with the technology of the newest models of hematology instruments. These products are sold throughout the United States directly by R&D Systems and in many foreign countries through distributors. Hematology products account for approximately 7% of TECHNE revenues.
In 1985 R&D Systems entered the research reagent market with its first cytokine, TGF-beta1, which was purified from porcine platelets. R&D Systems was the first company in the world to release TGF-beta1 commercially. Subsequently several other cytokines were purified from natural sources and released to the research market. Cytokines are specialized protein molecules that are involved in cell-to-cell communications, cell growth, cell death and differentiation, control of the immune system and in many diseases including cancer, AIDS and autoimmune diseases. Cytokines are in demand by biomedical researchers who want to learn more about their diverse effects.
Encouraged by its success in the cytokine market, in 1988 R&D Systems formed its Biotechnology Division with the goal of producing and marketing a wide range of human cytokines through genetic engineering. Recombinant DNA technology offers several advantages over extraction of these proteins from natural sources, including lower production cost and potentially unlimited supply. In 1989 the Biotechnology Division began developing monoclonal and polyclonal antibodiess to cytokines and in 1990 it developed its first enzyme-linked immunosorbent (ELISA) assay kit.
In 1991, R&D Systems purchased Amgen Inc.'s research reagent and diagnostic assay kit business. With this purchase, R&D Systems obtained Amgen's Erythropoietin (EPO) kit, its first ELISA assay kit for a cytokine that had been cleared by the FDA for clinical diagnostic use. In 1998, R&D Systems purchased Genzyme Corporation's research products business. This acquisition established R&D Systems as the world's leading supplier of research and diagnostic cytokine products. Today, the Biotechnology Division manufactures over 20,000 products.
TECHNE purchased its European biotechnology distributor, British Bio-technology Products Ltd. (renamed R&D Systems Europe, Ltd.) from British Biotechnology Group plc in 1993. RDSE sells and distributes the Company's biotechnology products throughout Europe and parts of Asia and Africa. As a result of growth in the European market, RDSE opened a sales office, R&D Systems GmbH, in Germany in 1995. RDSE and its German subsidiary account for approximately 24% of TECHNE revenues.
In 2005, R&D Systems acquired Fortron Bio Science, Inc., a developer and manufacturer of monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies, antigens and other biological reagents. R&D Systems simultaneously acquired BiosPacific, Inc, a worldwide supplier of biologics to manufacturers of in vitro diagnostic systems (IVDs) and immunodiagnostic kits. BiosPacific is the primary distribution arm for Fortron products. Fortron and BiosPacific had shared a unique strategic relationship since 1992 that combined Fortron's development and manufacturing excellence with BiosPacific's marketing and sales expertise. The acquisitions enhanced R&D Systems' ability to serve the diagnostics industry. Forton was merged into R&D Systems Biotechnology Division in July 2007.
During 2007, R&D Systems established R&D Systems China Co. Ltd., in Shanghai. The subsidiary provides warehousing, marketing, sales and technical services for the growing Chinese market. In 2011, R&D Systems China established a sales subsidiar in Hong Kong.
In April, 2011, R&D Systems acquired the assets of Boston Biochem, Inc., a leading developer and manufacturer of innovative ubiquitin-related research products. These products provide biomedical researchers the tools that facilitate and accelerate basic research and drug discovery efforts. Boston Biochem was founded in 1997 and currently has over 800 ubiquitin-related products.
In April, 2011, R&D Systems and RDSE acquired 100% ownership of Tocris Holdings Limited and subsidiaries (Tocris), a leading supplier of reagents for non-clinical life science research. Tocris' products are used in both in-vitro and in-vivo experiments, to understand biological processes and diseases. The business is focused on making biologically active chemicals which are used by researchers to elucidate biological processes and pathways. The products are used in life-science research activities and as part of the initial drug discovery process. Tocris is a Bristol, UK based company. Tocris currently offers over 2,900 chemical, peptide and antibody products. The principal end users are non-clinical laboratory based researchers, working in areas such as neuroscience, cardiovascular disease, endocrinology and cellular processes.