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Imago acquires synergistic British firm

Madison, Wis. — In a marriage of complementary nanotechnology companies, Imago Scientific Instruments Corp. has joined forces with a British firm.

Imago announced Tuesday that it has acquired the atom probe company Oxford NanoScience Ltd. from the UK-based Polaron Plc. The purchase price was not disclosed, but the transaction makes Imago the world's largest atom probe supplier, according to president and CEO Tim Stultz.

The companies have a great deal in common, including the fact that both were spun out of research universities. Imago was founded in 1998 by then University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Thomas Kelly, while Oxford NanoScience was spun out of Oxford University.

"They have a complementary product that expands our targetable markets with the same technology," Stultz said. "It basically doubles our installed base, and increases our intellectual property portfolio to essentially have nearly 100 percent of all the known IP in atom probe."

Nanotechnology refers to materials or devices that are made with control over features at the nanometer scale. Imago's analysis instruments provide sub-nanometer mapping of microelectronic devices and materials, and its tools are used to solve metrology and analysis challenges faced by manufacturers, engineers, and scientists in the semiconductor, data storage, and advanced materials markets.
The acquisition of Oxford NanoScience expands Imago's overall employment base to between 62 and 65 employees and its technical team by 20 to 25 percent. Rather than merge the two firms at its Madison facility, Imago will maintain separate locations. "We definitely like the fact that we have an R&D team over there," Stultz said, "and that the relationship with Oxford University is another synergy that we benefit from."

Oxford NanoScience produces a fully integrated, stand-alone instrument that has a different price performance metric than Imago's flagship LEAP Microscope. However, "there are some synergies that are probably going to occur over the next year or two in terms of complementary technology that will bridge over between the two tools so that we can really go for best in breed," Stultz said.

Imago expects the acquisition to accelerate its revenue, which the company does not disclose. "We're well into the double-digit millions of dollars," Stultz said, "and we're profitable."

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