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Biotechnology

Coronavirus testing for US workplaces offered by Konica Minolta

Biotech unit to field clients directly as safety concerns mount

Ambry Genetics has the capacity to conduct 2,000 polymerase chain reaction tests daily. (Photo courtesy of the company)

TOKYO -- Konica Minolta plans to offer a coronavirus testing service for U.S. businesses in fields such as logistics and infrastructure that look to prevent outbreaks at warehouses and other sites where staff continue to work despite lockdowns.

California-based subsidiary Ambry Genetics will perform the service, becoming one of the first testing providers in the U.S. to field requests from commercial customers.

Calls for workplace safety measures are growing in the U.S. Many Amazon.com employees have protested and refused to work since late March after colleagues at fulfillment centers around the country tested positive.

Ambry, which can conduct 2,000 polymerase chain reaction tests daily, will provide the service to state governments after the launch in May. The unit intends to take on private-sector customers in the summer, as capacity allows.

Negotiations have begun with a leading infrastructure company, and Ambry will consider boosting capacity if corporate demand rises.

Konica Minolta, a Japanese business known for its office equipment and health care segments, may roll out a similar service domestically after getting the U.S. version on track. The company thinks tests given by local governments in Japan will remain in short supply.

Konica Minolta anticipates that orders from the private sector will increase, and the company might even set up its own testing centers.

Ambry, which offers genetic testing for the risk of hereditary cancers, was acquired by Konica Minolta in 2017 for $800 million -- with the money partially funded by the old Innovation Network Corp. of Japan, a public-private fund now known as INCJ.

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