Agilent Acquires Cobalt, a Raman Innovator

The company is pursuing a high potential portfolio.

Characterizing the Oxfordshire, U.K. based technology company as a “provider of highly differentiated Raman spectroscopic instruments,” Agilent Technologies, Inc. released its intentions to acquire spectroscopy innovator Cobalt Light Systems. According to the announcement, Agilent will acquire Cobalt for (EU) 40 million in cash.

In its announcement, Agilent described Cobalt’s proprietary suite of benchtop and handheld, portable spectroscopic instruments, focusing on their ability for “through-barrier identification of chemicals and materials.” This particular feature allows quality systems personnel to inspect (among other procedures) incoming excipients and other ingredients without opening the containers these materials are shipped in.

“Traditional solutions based on conventional spectroscopy have limited capacities for detection of materials through sealed, non-transparent containers and are constrained to near-surface identification of materials such as pharma tablet coatings and containers,” said the statement.

According to Agilent, Cobalt’s customers are diverse, representing more than 20 of the top 25 pharma companies, as well as 75 airports where authorities deploy more than 500 devices to quickly identify and characterize unidentified and often hazardous materials.

Phil Binns, Vice President and General Manager of Agilent's Spectroscopy and Vacuum Solutions Division outlined the attractiveness of its new acquisition remarking that "Raman spectroscopy is one of the fastest-growing segments in spectroscopy,” and that the acquisition provides Agilent “immediate entry into this fast-growing segment with a highly competitive, differentiated offering."

Patrick Kaltenbach, President of Agilent's Life Sciences and Applied Markets Group agreed, offering similar sentiments. "This is exactly the type of acquisition that Agilent's strategy calls for–one that expands our market share and provides immediate benefits to our customers."

Cobalt CEO Paul Loeffen also cited the respective company’s cultures, which are, according to him, highly customer focused: "The combination of Cobalt's patented technologies with Agilent's product-development expertise, manufacturing capabilities, channels and customer base will allow us to scale our operations to take advantage of this rapidly growing market."

Cobalt is privately held and was established in 2008. Since its inception, Cobalt has received several industry awards for its innovation including the Queens Award for Enterprise (in 2015) and the 2014 Royal Academy of Engineering’s MacRobert Award. Agilent, offering more than 50 years of “insight and innovation,” said that in fiscal 2016 it generated some $4.2 billion in revenues with 13,000 employees worldwide.


Steve Kuehn

Steve offers the life science industry insight and perspective from his more than 30 years of editorial, corporate and agency communications experience. Drawing from tenure as a lead communicator and media relations director for one of world’s largest technology and engineering companies, as well the editorial leadership of industry-leading B2B journals serving the energy, transportation and pharmaceutical sectors, including Pharmaceutical Manufacturing magazine, Steve delivers brand strategy, market-moving content and decision support. Steve holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio University.