Santi Dominguez, CEO of Mestrelab Research
As a company, Mestrelab has been quiet in the aftermath of the momentous announcement by Agilent, a few weeks ago, of the impending closure of what was Varian Inc. This announcement has dramatically changed the global NMR landscape. Those in the community who know me will realize our silence is not due to shyness, but rather the consequence of a desire to watch the story develop and to form a considered opinion about future prospects.
Many of our customers in the last few weeks have however asked us how Agilent's announcement affects us and what it will mean for the future of our company, and in the light of these repeated questions, we feel it is time to start answering.
Of course, as a vendor-neutral provider of, amongst other things, but still mainly, NMR software, Mestrelab is interested in a competitively healthy and level NMR market. As members of the NMR community we are saddened by Varian's demise (it is no exaggeration to call it the end of an era) and concerned about what it may mean for the future of NMR.
However, Mestrelab has always been vendor neutral. We have provided market-leading software to labs with magnets from all manufacturers in the market, and we intend to continue to do so. Many of our previous sales have been to users who have instrumentation from the leading high field magnet manufacturer, and this should continue or even increase, now that this manufacturer will be under less pressure from competition to innovate in software. In addition, there are still a number of different players in the NMR hardware market, particularly with the advent and growth of benchtop magnet manufacturers, and we see the challenges posed by the current situation as an opportunity, which can actually be very positive for a company positioned like ours, which has built a product and customer community based on the foundations of quality of product, quality of customer support and attentiveness to market needs. This will continue to be our strategy, and the new future will bring many opportunities, some of them new and greater than ever before.
Our users and prospective users should know that we are very positive when looking forward. 2014 has been our best ever year, built on the basis of independently achieved sales, and the outlook for 2015 is already looking much better. For those wondering about Mestrelab, some things are worth highlighting:
- We are investing aggressively to bring more products and services to market, and we have just added, in the last 2 months, 15% to our headcount in R&D, as we are confident the NMR market will be hungrier than ever for new products and innovation, which will only stem from competition and the striving of different companies to gain market acceptance through differentiated and exceptional product offers.
- 2015 will see Mestrelab release more new products than ever, with at least 6 new products focused on the needs of the chemistry community targeted for release in the coming year.
- We will also be supporting new applications, new market segments, new technology platforms and new look product and services, which will represent very significant, even ground breaking innovation in our field.
- We will be forming collaborations with market-leading innovators in the NMR community and sharing the new functionality with all our customers
- Rather than decreasing our appetite for continuing innovation in software development for the NMR sector, we see increasing opportunity to develop useful software that makes our customers' hardware purchases more productive
It is early days, and we are still looking for answers to questions, such as:
- How can we maybe support or be of help to Varian/Agilent users who may feel somewhat stranded by the latest developments?
- What should our strategy be for working with high field hardware vendors going forward?
- What will be the effects of the latest events on innovation by other parties in the NMR software field?
- Looking ahead, is the NMR spectrometer market less likely to commit to a single instrument vendor, but spread the risk between several?
And of course, as we always do, we believe in answers from the market to all these questions, so I encourage you to comment and give your opinions on all the above, and to come up with anything else which you think Mestrelab should be thinking about at present.
I will write with more details on some of these things in the next few days, but so far we are keen to give the NMR market some initial commitments in this new landscape:
- More investment
- More innovation
- More creativity
...than ever before!