iCyt Mission Technology, Inc.
(a Sony Group company)

Venture Capital Partners: IllinoisVENTURES, the Helmuth Family, Open Prairie Ventures, Fox Ventures

The first important thing to know about iCyt Mission Technology, of Champaign, Ill., is that its first name is pronounced "eyesight." The second important thing? It is a biotech instrumentation leader in flow cytometry (pronounced sī-tom-etrē). the sorting of biological cells as they pass in a fluid stream through a measuring apparatus.

And the newest thing to know is that Sony Corp. bought the company in February 2010 for an undisclosed price. ICyt plans to develop new technologies and deliver new products in collaboration with Sony. ICyt Founder and CEO Gary Durack will continue to lead the company through this period of growth and expansion.

ICyt began with some help from Monsanto Corp. in 2001 when it started creating parallel sorting machines for gender-enrichment technology for cattle. Monsanto ultimately decided not to enter the commercial market. But iCyt had created more general market versions of the technology that went far beyond sex-selection.

Today, iCyt focuses its offerings on researchers working in the arena of cancer diagnosis and treatment, as well as a host of other diseases. A recent iCyt innovation, called the Reflection™, is the world's most advanced droplet cell-sorting platform. It sorts cells rapidly from two or more different samples simultaneously and far beyond conventional collection rates.

ICyt, which employs 45 people, operates from a state-of-the-art, 45,000-square foot facility adjacent to the University of Illinois. Its revenues fell from 2008's $9 million, hurt by the financial-markets meltdown, which clipped orders. It is expected to unveil new products later this spring.

IllinoisVENTURES chose iCyt as its first portfolio investment and, in three rounds of funding since 2001, iCyt also attracted funds from other Champaign-area groups, including the county's community-development corporation, the Helmuth Family, Open Prairie Ventures and Fox Ventures.