Maven backs BioAscent with £1.6 million investment

Private equity house, Maven Capital Partners (“Maven”), has completed a £1.6 million investment in Motherwell-based BioAscent Discovery Limited (“BioAscent”), an integrated drug discovery services business.

The funding will enable BioAscent to significantly expand its service offering, adding complementary chemistry and biology services and capitalise on the growing trend towards the outsourcing of drug discovery activities. The funding will support the creation of 10 new jobs, including in highly skilled scientific positions, and fund additional laboratory space.

BioAscent has recently assembled a team of expert biologists and medicinal chemists that have a track record of taking drugs from concept to clinical candidate across all major therapeutic areas to deliver its drug discovery service offering. The provision of integrated drug discovery services including compound management from one facility is a key differentiator and is expected to drive BioAscent’s growth.

By adding chemistry and biology to its existing capabilities, BioAscent can provide a uniquely customer-focused, differentiated and high-value, integrated drug discovery offering, which positions the firm as one of the leading providers of integrated drug discovery services in a fast growth market.

The global drug discovery market is currently valued at $22 billion and it is forecast to enjoy double digit growth over the next 5 years driven by an increasing trend towards the outsourcing of drug discovery to contract research organisations (CROs) like BioAscent. Many small to medium sized clients have adopted virtual models to avoid building a costly drug discovery capability, and larger pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are now embracing the outsourcing concept finding it more cost-effective, flexible and efficient to outsource rather than develop their own in-house infrastructure and recruit the necessary skilled research staff.

The drug discovery process often starts with the screening of large numbers of chemical compounds and a pharmaceutical company’s compound collection is one of its ‘crown jewels’, being at the core of the drug discovery process. The compounds have to be stored in a system that ensures they are maintained in optimum conditions, are easily retrievable and, most importantly, traceable.

This requires a sophisticated compound management system which normally only the very large pharmaceutical companies can afford to install and maintain. BioAscent possesses just such a secure, state-of-the-art facility, housing client compound libraries ranging in size from a few thousand to a few hundred thousand compounds. Full robotic systems operating in a controlled atmosphere are used to handle the compounds.

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BioAscent was founded by former pharmaceutical executives responsible for delivering numerous clinical drug candidates over the past 30 years and is located in the state-of-the-art biology and chemistry laboratories of the former Merck Sharpe and Dohme R&D site at Newhouse, Scotland.

David Milroy, Investment Director at Maven, said: “BioAscent, with its highly regarded team and impressive state-of-the-art facility, is ideally placed to capitalise on the increasing demand within the market for high quality drug discovery services. Maven’s investment will be used to expand BioAscent’s service offering and critically hire additional leading scientists and I am very much looking forward to working with the management team to scale the business.”

Paul Smith, CEO at BioAscent, added“BioAscent offers enviable, world-class expertise in the key drug discovery disciplines of biosciences and medicinal chemistry. With our established compound management and screening facilities we can work with clients right from the earliest stages of the drug discovery process, which gives us a stand-out advantage over other providers.”

Glenn Crocker, CEO at BioCity (major shareholder in BioAscent), said “This is a major milestone in the development of BioAscent, with the investment from Maven validating the successful development of the business over recent years. I am very pleased BioCity remains a major shareholder in the company and look forward to continuing to work with Maven and the management team to grow the business further.”