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Dutch fund buys majority stake in virology CRO Viroclinics citing demand

By Gareth MacDonald+

Last updated on 08-Jan-2014 at 12:04 GMT2014-01-08T12:04:35Z

Bird flu driving investment decisions
Bird flu driving investment decisions

Gilde Healthcare Partners has bought a majority stake in specialist virology CRO Viroclinics Biosciences in a transaction prompted by growing global demand for virus research services and vaccines.

The Utrecht-headquartered investment group paid for its stake in the Rotterdam-based contract research organisation (CRO) using the Gilde Healthcare Services I fund. Further financial details have not been disclosed.

Viroclinics’ spokeswoman Cindy van Hagen told the investment will help fund expansion of the firm’s business, including the clinical trial operations unit it set up late last year.

We used to focus mainly on assay for the detection of virus in clinical samples. However, in December we started offering trial operations services and the investment will help further expand that business.”

van Hagen explained that the entery into clinical trial operations services – which involved hiring additional staff and boosting the firm’s logistics capabilities - was prompted by a customer request, but she declined to name the pharma firm involved.

Vaccine demand

Gilde, which has several investment funds that in total are worth €450m ($611m), indicated that its investment was prompted – in part - by market dynamics.

Jasper van Gorp, Partner at Gilde Healthcare told us that: “We already see a strong demand for specialized virology testing in the current market environment. This demand is increasing further as a result of various developments, the search for vaccines for bird flu or similar viruses being one of them.

The other driver for the investment was the CROs position as “the preferred virology testing laboratory for several of the top-10 Biopharmaceutical companies” according to van Gorp.

Their extensive experience with clinical and preclinical studies for viruses, especially in respiratory viruses, put them at the forefront for supporting the development of vaccines, antibodies and antiviral compounds targeting viral infectious diseases.

This strong market demand, coupled with a strong management team and the unique market position of viroclincs, were some of our key investment criteria.”

van Gorp also said that: “We intend to support the company in its development path during the coming years” when asked about the likely duration of the investment.

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