Life science industry feted

Invitrogen wins big in first annual Life Science Industry Awards

Dec 7, 2004
Jeffrey Perkel(

WASHINGTON, DC—Some 150 members of the life science community convened here at the Renaissance Hotel Monday night (December 6) for the presentation of the first annual Life Science Industry Awards, hosted by Ira Flatow, the host of NPR's Talk of the Nation: Science Friday. The big winner of the evening was Invitrogen of Carlsbad, Calif., which won seven of the 18 awards.

(For complete coverage, see an article from the December 6 issue of The Scientist.)

"For a multibillion dollar enterprise that is so important to the economic growth of this nation and the health of its citizens, the life science industry is remarkably low key," Alexander Grimwade, publisher of The Scientist, told the audience. "Without your innovations and your products, there would be no basic research, no human genome sequence, no papers in Nature, no newspaper headlines about the latest discoveries, no dimly lit crime scene investigation labs on TV. The Scientist has developed the Life Science Industry Awards, along with BioInformatics, to go some way towards remedying this lack of recognition."

"Both we and The Scientist believe these awards are an important way of bringing life science vendors and scientific customers closer together," said Bill Kelly, president of BioInformatics, the Arlington, Va.–based market research firm that conducted the polling. "Because so much time and effort is devoted to communicating your message to your customers, we see these awards as a way for customers to recognize those of you who have made the greatest contributions to their research in the past year."

Presented by The Scientist, the awards are based on a survey, conducted between September 23 and October 8, of 3085 readers of The Scientist and members of the Science Advisory Board. Respondents selected the top suppliers in 18 product- and service-based categories—everything from best expression analysis products to best sales representatives.

In all, voters selected 614 companies as "best in class," said Kelly, and the top three in each category were named finalists. The winners were chosen by a combination of raw votes and a "customer value score"—a metric that gauges "the ability of the vendor to deliver those things that customers value most," Kelly explained.

Representatives from nearly 40 companies, universities, and the National Institutes of Health attended the ceremony, which was timed to correspond with the annual American Society for Cell Biology meeting.

"We are absolutely honored, not only to have won the awards we did, but also to have been nominated among such extraordinary companies," Invitrogen company spokesman Greg Geissman said. "We have worked very hard to make Invitrogen a place that our customers feel they can be a true partner in their innovation with, and being recognized in this manner shows us that our customers realize this."

Carl Zeiss of Jena, Germany, and Bio-Rad Laboratories tied for best image analysis system. Jim Sharp, president of Carl Zeiss Microimaging, said, "I'm especially excited because we are an old company. For much of our existence we have been a 'brass and glass' company." But it also has been an evolving one, and the award, Sharp said, shows that Zeiss' customers recognize that fact.

"I thank you and congratulate you not only for the awards we're giving you tonight but also for the priority that these awards show toward the importance of scientific achievement," Flatow told the crowd. "Unfortunately, we live in a time when science is on the defensive. A time when people believe more in aliens than they do in stem cell research. A time when science is taking a back seat to politics, a time when the scientific method is being attacked in biology classes across the country, and even the president of the United States says that on the issue of evolution, the verdict is still out.

"Let us hope that the golden age of science is not in our rear view mirror, that the last 50 years of groundbreaking research and development in this country was not merely a flash in the pan," Flatow continued. "I hope your presence here tonight echoes those sentiments."

Some of the winners and finalists were already looking toward future awards. Zeiss, for instance, aspires to be the best in customer support categories, too, Sharp said: "We have some things to work on."