Blu-rays to Chips: Sony DADC Enters Life Science and Diagnostics Industry as OEM Partner

Theral Timpson

It came as a surprise that I was referred to a fellow from Sony some time back. Huh? Makers of my original Walkman? Dr. Ali Tinazli is the Director of Business Development and Sales for a new division called Sony DADC -Biosciences. There’s Sony Corp based in Japan, then there’s Sony DADC International which has been headquartered in Salzburg, Austria for a quarter century. With a yearly revenue of $2.2 billion, 35 plants worldwide, and a workforce of over 7,000, Sony DADC is the world’s leading supplier of Blu-ray discs. But what are they doing in the life sciences? Sony DADC has opened this new BioSciences business unit for the manufacture of what they call “smart consumables.” It’s impressive how they’ve already begun leveraging the strengths they’ve developed over the years--the best equipment, know how and quality production-to create products for life science.

“An increased demand for cost-effective solutions is shifting the industry focus towards prevention and lower cost solutions,” Ali pointed out recently. “And many of the new products and technologies developed are containing micro-structured polymer devices.” Listen to an interview with Ali on our podcast.

In just a couple years, Ali, and the new division, have secured several important partnerships. “We’re using an OEM B2B model, where we work with industry leaders or innovative start-ups who have already developed product prototypes, such as RainDance Technologies. Then we utilize the equipment and expertise we’ve built up in the compact disc industry to produce these very sophisticated new consumables.” Ali, who has a Ph D in biochem, formerly worked in business development at Applied Biosystems. “Sony DADC already has the infrastructure and the ability to rapidly scale up production. It’s a win/win for us and for a company like RainDance who develops the application and technology and partners with us for development and manufacturing,” Ali explained.



RainDance Technologies is pioneering what they call “digital biology” with their new droplet-based technologies. Their products, such as the company’s core technology, RainStorm(TM), are enabling researchers to answer complex questions with a new level of precision, sensitivity, and quantitation. RainDance recently announced that Ambry Genetics had purchased their new ThunderStorm™ System,which is used forfor genetic testing and next-generation targeted sequencing services. RainDance and Sony DADC have announced the culmination of a multi-year collaboration for the co-development and manufacture of the micro-droplet based chips.

The products are called “smart consumables” because Sony DADC is using some sophisticated technology to layer microfluidic channels on a polymer rather than metallic or ceramic chip. The scalability and cost advantages of working with plastic is seen as the key to achieving real cost efficiency in manufacturing and thus removing a major barrier to mass adoption of the system.

Another partnership recently announced is with Quanterix Corp. who is enabling new diagnostic tests with their Single Molecule Array or SiMoA(T) technology. "We selected Sony DADC as our consumables partner because they are the clear world leader in the micro structuring and manufacturing of high volume optical products," said Martin Madaus, Ph.D., Quanterix Executive Chairman in a statement. "Sony DADC's proven optical disc technology provides Quanterix with a consumable that meets the requirements of high sensitivity diagnostic testing both today and into the future.”

Ali points out that the global trends in healthcare--cost effectiveness, prevention, personalized medicine--are creating new markets for point-of-care devices that use the “smart consumables.” They estimate the market for microfluidics and lab-on-a-chip solutions to nearly triple by 2020.

That Sony DADC would open a biosciences division appears to make a lot of sense. No doubt the entry of a world manufacturing leader into this space will go a ways towards developing the technology that will power the growth they anticipate.