Fluid Imaging Technologies, Inc. (FIT) was founded in 1999 as a spinoff from Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences (BLOS) in West Boothbay Harbor, ME. The original FlowCAM® was developed at Bigelow for studying plankton in ocean water. An extremely novel and patented concept, the FlowCAM was designed to combine the benefits of digital imaging, flow cytometry and microscopy into a single instrument. The initial ‘headquarters” was located above a garage in E. Boothbay, ME. Marine biologists from around the world visited BLOS and were exposed to the FlowCAM. Many of these scientists found the instrument to be so useful for their research that they expressed interest in acquiring one for their own lab. At this point, Dr. Chris Sieracki, one of the co-developers of the original FlowCAM, formed Fluid Imaging Technologies to manufacture instruments for other researchers.
During the initial five years of the company's history, the FlowCAM was sold exclusively to the oceanographic research community. At this point, FIT moved to a small building in Edgecomb, ME. Towards the end of this period, several non-oceanographic customers evaluated the FlowCAM for their particle analysis applications, and eventually purchased instruments. These early "industrial" customers included a flavors and fragrances manufacturer and a petrochemical company. Recognizing the potential of the FlowCAM to address these other "industrial" applications, the company expanded and began marketing to the industrial sector while continuing to sell to the core oceanographic customers. The FlowCAM also expanded into other aquatic applications, such as limnology (the study of inland waters) and municipal water.
In the next five years of the company's history, growth became more rapid in both the aquatic and industrial parts of the business. As a result, the company outgrew its second location and moved to a brand new facility in Yarmouth, ME. At the same time, the company expanded dramatically in international sales, leading up to Fluid Imaging Technologies being named the US Small Business Administration's (SBA) small business Exporter of the Year in 2008, and subsequently Exporter of the Year 2010 by the Maine International Trade Center.
Demand for the FlowCAM continued worldwide, and the company began to strengthen its commitment to new product development. In 2012, they introduced the FlowCAM Particle Vision (PV) Series. Building on the company’s patented imaging technology, the PV analyzer is pre-configured to promote maximum speed, efficiency, accuracy and repeatability in laboratories where analyses are repeatedly performed on the same products and/or on particles within the same size range. Then Fluid Imaging received a development award from the Maine Technology Institute (MTI) Business Innovation Program for development of the next generation of an imaging flow cytometer. This allowed them to expand their research and development department, and immediately hire additional engineers to work on development of a high-sensitivity automated imaging flow cytometer.
In late 2012, Fluid Imaging raised private equity which allowed them to further accelerate both product development and sales and marketing efforts. The company continued adding new team members, and in the first few months of 2013, they welcomed 16 new staffers representing every facet of the organization including customer support, product development and engineering, laboratory services, and manufacturing and production, as well as sales, marketing and administration. In addition the senior management team was expanded. The company also began exploring new applications in the oil and gas industry.
To accommodate the expanding team, Fluid Imaging Technologies moved to a new facility in Scarborough, Maine, in July 2013. Their new 18,000 square foot space is equipped with a state-of-the-art testing laboratory, a dedicated product development area, and expanded production capability. In the new facility, Fluid Imaging Technologies has the capacity to meet the expected increase in demand as they continue to develop new solutions for existing and developing markets. Also in 2013, Fluid Imaging received the Robert R. Masterton Award for Economic Development from the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce.