iCyt is synonymous with innovation and entrepreneurial success in Champaign. iCyt was one of the first tenants at the Research Park, opening an office with just two employees.
Today, iCyt Mission Technology is an independent subsidiary of Sony. The customers for its cell-sorting equipment and research analyzers include pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, medical centers, and research institutions. The iCyt story is one of collaboration, vision, and execution. It is emblematic of the Champaign-Urbana and Research Park community philosophy – that working together and being supportive for one another helps everyone in the end.
In 2005, the firm moved into its own Research Park building, financed with the help of developer Fox/Atkins. Five years later, the Japanese electronics giant acquired iCyt to enter a new area of biotechnology led by iCyt’s biomedical product using Sony Blu-Ray technology for medical applications. The acquisition was a boon for investors, the University of Illinois Tech Transfer system, and iCyt founders and employees.
“The University, Research Park, and community have all been very supportive of iCyt. They have helped us function like a big company and compete with big players in our industry,” Gary Durack, Founder, said at the time of the acquisition.
The company’s upward trajectory can be credited to many sources, innovative technology and solid business acumen among them. It’s a tribute to its ability to leverage the technology commercialization at the University of Illinois and the local tech environment.
- iCyt attracted funding from local venture capitalists, including IllinoisVENTURES (providing early-stage funding) and Open Prairie Ventures;
- The company received the support of local angel investors, including Peter Fox and Clint Atkins of Fox/Atkins Development;
- iCyt garnered the support of local lenders, including Champaign-owned Busey Bank and the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission;
- It also sought out funding from public and government resources, primarily from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
The biotechnology company’s collaborative approach to research is another example of its ability to leverage local resources. Partners have included the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s College of Veterinary Medicine, The Carle R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, and Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana.
“When Sony was evaluating our business, they appreciated the collaboration with the University and the facilities in the Park that support our business,” Durack said. “I am extremely thankful to the University, Fox/Atkins Development, our investors, and the community for their support.”