Clinical Cymru: Simbec Research buys Orion Clinical Services for £12.5m

Simbec buys late-stage capabilities

Simbec Research has bought Orion Clinical Services in the latest deal backed by the Welsh Government’s £100m life sciences investment fund.

The £12.5 ($21m) deal will combine Simbec’s early phase clinical trial capabilities with Orion’s late stage services and create an organisation with a 250-strong workforce, although the contract research organisations (CROs) will continue to operate as separate brands.

The organisation – which will be headquartered in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales - claims to have 65 large and mid-cap pharmaceutical and biotech clients and approximately 90 clinical trials currently in progress.

Ronald Openshaw, who was named as Simbec-Orion’s new CEO, said: “Our goal is to increase our leadership position as a trusted member of a client’s team to meet their needs as they create new medicines to improve human health.”

He added that: “I look forward to driving the growth of the business as we invest in the Group, and to our expansion through further acquisitions.”

Clinical Cymru

The Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund contributed £8m to Simbec’s acquisition of Orion in an investment that followed just 12 months after it helped the firm’s former owners buy the CRO from Canadian private equity group Kilmer Capital Partners.

Wales' clinical trial sector has grown significantly in the last few years with the Simbec deal following hot on the heels of PRA's decision to set up its global clinical informations centre in the country.

Backing from the Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund was also key to persuading stem cell firm ReNeuron to relocate its manufacturing operations from Guildford, England to Bridgend, Wales last year.

The Wales Life Sciences Fund also made an equity investment in London, England headquartered respiratory disease-focused drug developer Verona Pharma. As a condition of the funding, Verona will relocate to a site in the Welsh capital, Cardiff.

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