The firm will equip an Agilent Measurement Suite in the Molecular Sciences Research Hub at the White City Campus of Imperial College London which is due to open later this year.
The suite will have a range of spectroscopy, LC and GC products and serve as an Agilent instrument demonstration lab for customers to experience the company’s workflows.
Instrumentation includes the Intuvo LC/MS QQQ and Q-TOF Discovery LC/MS systems and GC/MS with Intuvo GC, ICPMS QQQ, prep LC and FTIR instruments as well as AssayMAP Bravo liquid handler platform and Bioanalyzer for proteins, cells, DNA and RNA.
Agilent said the focus of the partnership is on long-term collaboration rather than location.
The company has three other demo labs in Cheadle, Manchester; Les Uliss, Paris and Waldbronn, Germany where Agilent also develops and manufactures its line of HPLC systems.
Imperial is part of AGRI-net, a network between the chemical biology and agri-science research communities, to look at challenges faced by the agricultural industry, in food security, safety and sustainable crop production.
Participating researchers use Agilent equipment such as LC/MS Q-TOF or Supercritical Fluid Chromatography (SFC) coupled to mass spectrometry.
John Lee, global food market manager at Agilent, said it has seen customers want to use LC/MS technologies to understand metabolism in plants and animals in the agricultural sector.
“We also frequently see how this interest expands into using that knowledge to drive development of tastier food or to investigate abuses with fraudulent substitution of one species with another (food fraud),” he said.
“The same principles apply to GC/MS especially where aroma is involved and to ICP/MS especially where a regional source of food needs to be determined. It’s also worth remembering that the agricultural sector can often be forced to discard food when it becomes unfit for human consumption, sometimes even while it is growing in the field (e.g. mycotoxin issues).
“Understanding the life science of the bugs and fungal organisms that can cause such tragedies are also important. Once again LC/MS can be a key tool here and Agilent develops libraries to enable our customers to find and identify these.”
University and industry work together
Mike McMullen, Agilent president and CEO, said: “We recognize the important contributions made by university scientific research to solve real-life challenges from finding new ways to fight cancer, to ensuring the purity of food, to solving major environmental issues.”
Imperial’s president, Professor Alice Gast, said the partnership strengthens industry collaborations.
“Agilent's best-in-field equipment in the Molecular Sciences Research Hub at White City will catalyse forefront multidisciplinary research on societal challenges from understanding disease on a molecular level to developing clean sources of energy.”
A joint steering committee, led by Imperial’s Professor Tony Cass and Agilent’s Stefan Mattmueller, Neil Cook, Maria Angeles Diaz and Jake Brown will oversee the collaboration.
Professor Cass has the objective of translating research, tools and technology from academia to industry.
Agilent has four labs in partnership with universities that it classes as Centers of Excellence.
These are the University of Osaka, Agilent Technologies Research Alliance Lab; University of Adelaide, Adelaide Glycomics; University of Southern California, Agilent CoE in Biomolecular Characterization and Imperial College London.
Automated molecule analysis
Meanwhile, Agilent is to acquire privately-held Advanced Analytical Technologies, Inc. (AATI) for $250m in cash.
AATI is a provider of capillary electrophoresis-based (CE) systems for automated analysis of a range of molecules. It is based in Ankeny, Iowa and has 101 employees.
Automated electrophoresis is a separation technique to analyze biomolecules such as nucleic acids (RNA and DNA), proteins, carbohydrates and small molecules.
It has a range of applications and is used across industry segments including pharma and biopharma, academia and government, clinical and diagnostics, food, environmental and forensics.
“AATI’s complementary products strengthen our existing strong portfolio of solutions and provide further opportunities to accelerate our growth,” said Patrick Kaltenbach, president of Agilent’s life sciences and applied markets group.