Cobalt Light Systems acquired by Agilent for £40m

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Cobalt Light Systems, a provider of Raman spectroscopic instruments, has been acquired by Agilent Technologies, a multi-billion-dollar technology company in the life sciences, diagnostics and applied chemical markets.

A spin-out from the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Cobalt Light Systems produces innovative products for non-invasive, through-barrier chemical analysis, for applications in airport security, hazardous chemical ID and pharmaceutical QC, using a technologically advanced Raman spectroscopy technique.

Cobalt Light Systems' CEO Paul Loeffen will remain with Agilent as the director of Raman Spectroscopy. The former Cobalt Light Systems headquarters, loacted on the rapidly growing Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire UK, will become Agilent’s global centre for Raman spectroscopy.

Privately held and ranked as one of the UK’s fastest-growing technology companies in 2014, Cobalt Light Systems’s customers include 21 of the world’s 25 largest pharmaceutical companies, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and more than 75 airports across Europe and Asia-Pacific, including eight of the 10 largest European airports, with over 500 devices deployed at airport checkpoints. Recently, Cobalt Light Systems has entered environmental screening markets such as law enforcement, customs and borders, and first responders its handheld platform.

The company was funded from the early stages by Rainbow Seed Fund. Ian Taylor, chairman of Rainbow Seed Fund, commented: 'As a seed investor in innovations from the UK’s science base, Rainbow enables scientists to commercialise their innovations. The acquisition of Cobalt Light Systems demonstrates our objective to leverage private capital to validate, invest and grow leading UK science. The successful sale of Cobalt Light Systems gives Rainbow additional funds to re-invest in ideas emerging from the UK’s world-leading research base.'

Dr Andrew Muir, investment director of the Rainbow Seed Fund, added: 'As the first investor, more than a decade ago, we are proud of Cobalt Light Systems’s path from research origins at Rainbow partner STFC to a global market and this successful outcome demonstrates our strategy of providing very early investment to validate and develop research with high-growth potential.'