GeneProt: No Show

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This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the April 16, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

On the Move

NEC’s American laboratory dealt with the gloomy outlook

for technology businesses by regrouping. Just as the Sarnoff Corporation

no longer does the "pure research" that it used to do when

it was RCA, the Japanese company has revamped to focus on practical

topics. "NEC decided to work on things that would help NEC rather

than just produce papers," says the new president, Robert Millstein.

CUSA (C&C Research Laboratories) and NEC Research Institute have downsized,

combined forces, and are known now as NEC Laboratories America. With

only 110 employees remaining at 4 Independence Way, NEC has more than

31,000 square feet available for lease through the Gale Company. Avebe

America is its sole tenant so far.

C&C Labs had been doing research in technologies underlying computers

and communications systems with Kojiro Watanabe in charge, and the

Research Institute had been under the direction of David Waltz. Both

have ceded their administrative positions and are pursuing research

projects.

Scientists that had been writing theoretical papers on a variety of

topics are limited to these areas: Internet software, robust and secure

systems, broadband and mobil networking, system LSI, bioinformatics,

and quantum IT.

Millstein, the son of a Brooklyn attorney, almost majored in English

and minored in math at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Class

of 1963. "In my senior year I chickened out and realized I didn’t

want a humanities degree, even though MIT has an awesome humanities

program," he says. He worked at Livermore National Laboratory,

for a subsidiary of Applied Data Research, and president of a Massachusetts-based

computer company. He met NEC’s previous president, David Waltz, in

Woburn, Massachusetts, at a company called Thinking Machines, aka

Continuum Software now High Speed Software.

When NEC reorganized, Waltz went back to the lab and asked Millstein

to consult. Millstein commutes weekly from Massachusetts, where his

wife has a quilting fabric and yarn retail business. "Thank God

for Shuttle America," says Millstein.

Millstein believes Woburn can teach Princeton how to incubate high

tech companies. It seems that one developer, Cummings Property, has

built what Millstein calls "a vast empire, more than one million

square feet, with wonderful deals for software companies." Small

spaces are inexpensive and the leases encourage expansion. "They

write into your lease that they will get 50 percent more space at

the going rate within six months or you can break your lease, so you

don’t have to rent more space than you need."

NEC Laboratories America (NIPNY), 4 Independence

Way, Princeton 08540. Robert Millstein, president. 609-520-1555; fax,

609-951-2481. Home page: www.nec-labs.com

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GeneProt: No Show

GeneProt, the industrial-scale proteomics company that

leased — but never occupied — an entire building at Technology

Center of New Jersey, has slashed its staff in Geneva, Switzerland,

by half. The company says it will continue to do innovative work and

contract with partners, but that by reducing its cash expenditures,

smaller contracts will be profitable.

Based in Geneva, the company was founded by several MBA graduates

of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School. It has had such partners

as Novartis, Serono, Hewlett Packard, and LION bioscience.

In 2000 GeneProt (www.geneprot.com) signed a 10-year-contract

for just-built space in a 60,000 square foot addition to the Technology

Center of New Jersey. It renegotiated the contract to a prepaid one-year

lease with a liquidated damages clause (U.S. 1, January 29).

GeneProt started out doing proteome sample analysis for Novartis,

which owned more than $40 million in GeneProt stock. Compak was GeneProt’s

technology partner, supplying the computers for 51 mass spectrometers

running around the clock.

"We have major strengths and a unique know-how that has enabled

GeneProt to establish itself as a leader in an industry that did not

exist three years ago," says Bertrand Damour, CEO. "But we

are feeling the impact of the current economic situation on research

and investments in biotechnology, which are suffering a marked slowdown.

The current crisis has hindered the growth of the industrial-scale

proteomics industry, which remains an undertaking with considerable

potential. Today, leading pharmaceutical companies — also feeling

the effects of the crisis — are taking fewer risks on external

earlier stage projects, preferring to focus their investments on internal

research projects."

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In the News

GenuOne, 864 Mapleton Road, Princeton 08540. Frans

Coetsee, chief technology officer. 609-919-3700; fax, 609-919-3707.

Www.genuone.com

GenuOne, a Boston-based company with a research office

on Mapleton Road, got ink in Ann Grimes’ Digits columns in the Wall

Street Journal on April 20. Formerly called Certus, the company has

technologies to secure against counterfeiting, diversion, and intellectual

property theft.

"It has developed an Internet service that lets companies punch

in a list of products they want to automatically monitor on eBay,"

wrote Grimes. The service attacks the gray market by identifying new

goods with suspiciously low prices and automatically fills out the

forms to notify eBay so that it can excise the counterfeits.

Top Of Page
Stock News

ITXC Corp. (ITXC), 750 College Road East, Princeton

08540. Tom Evslin, CEO. 609-750-3333; fax, 609-419-1511. Www.itxc.com

ITXC has rejected the proposed takeover by IDT, the Newark-based prepaid

phone card company. IDT said on Wednesday, April 9, that it hoped

to buy out ITXC for $1.40 a share.

CEO Tom Evslin says the IDT proposal "gives no value to our vast

network, our physical assets, or our customer base" and that the

company’s cash and cash equivalents amounted to $1.70 per share. He

said that the net book value per outstanding share exceeded $2.65

per share. Evslin, 60, has said he will retire as CEO this year but

will remain chairman of the board.

In 2001 IDT bought Winstar at one percent of its value and in the

past nine months has unsuccessfully tried to buy WorldCom and Global

Crossing.


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