North Carolina-based Clinipace Worldwide, a digital CRO (dCRO) that has been building out its European presence for nearly five years, completed its merger with Accovion, a CRO based in Frankfurt, Germany, tripling its European footprint.
The acquisition strengthens Clinipace’s overseas presence, combining its 130 European employees with Accovion’s 260, and augments its current presence in certain countries, according to Jeff Williams, Clinipace CEO, who said no layoffs are expected. Clinipace now has added operations in Italy, Czech Republic, Romania, Poland, Spain, France, the Ukraine and Russia. The combined company has total staff numbering almost 1,000.
“We have wanted a deeper penetration in Europe and Accovion gives us needed expertise, its stellar reputation, more penetration in Germany and back-end clinical trial strengths that augment our front-end abilities. So there is a nice synergy for us,” said Williams. “We now can offer a competitive array of global clinical development and regulatory services in these eastern and western European countries.”
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Clinipace chose to acquire Accovion rather than form a partnership, Williams said, because partnerships for geographical expansion are a failed model.
“Partnerships don’t work well, as there is too much risk and it raises more concerns for clients,” he said. “Increasingly, CROs are moving to global control of their operations and want one central point of control. So it is better to have one place to go to negotiate contracts and implement one set of SOPs [standard operating procedures]. Also, management and contracting is streamlined.”
For Clinipace, which serves early stage, mid-market biotech and medical device sponsors, Accovion adds large pharma companies to its customer base.
“They provide a good fit for us,” said Williams.
Accovion CEO Andree Beckerling, M.D., said finding the right U.S. partner that shared the same business philosophy, values and expectations was essential to Accovion’s long-term success.
“Clinipace provides the right combination of complementary operational strengths, services and geography,” Beckerling said in a statement. “Accovion clients gain access to Clinipace’s dCRO delivery model supported by its proprietary TEMPO eClinical platform and a comprehensive and integrated clinical operations, data management, biostatistics and regulatory consultancy, with a large worldwide footprint.” Beckerling will have day-to-day operating responsibility for the European offices, including the existing Clinipace staff and locations. He also will join the company’s executive committee.
Accovion was spun out of pharma company Aventis in 2002, launching as a data management firm. Over the last five years it has expanded into the clinical and regulatory arenas, said Williams. Accovion has conducted clinical trials in more than 20 countries.
The Accovion deal—Clinipace’s sixth acquisition in six years—follows $50 million in financing in January from Virgo Investment Group, a private equity firm. The funding is designed to capitalize on a pipeline of corporate acquisitions or, as Clinipace labeled the funding, a “$50 million M&A war chest.”
“Clinipace presented an exciting opportunity to a large and growing segment of the healthcare sector,” Virgo founder Jesse Watson said in a statement. “The fundamentals of the CRO industry currently are strong, and the company is at an inflection point in its growth, which can be catalyzed by the capital of our investment group.”
Clinipace’s acquisition spree began in 2009, when it purchased CRO Worldwide Clinical Research and added the Worldwide to its corporate name. In 2011 it acquired both Regulus Pharmaceutical Consulting and CRO PFC Pharma Focus. Clinipace then acquired CRO Paragon Biomedical in 2012. Its 2014 merger with Choice Pharma, a Pan- Asian CRO, strengthened its operational and therapeutics expertise in 15 Asian countries, including China, Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia.
Clinipace now has clinical operations in 39 countries in Europe, Asia, South America, Middle East, India and the U.S. What’s next?
Said Williams, “We are looking for new business in the U.S.”
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