Avance has used the favorable environment for early-phase trials in Australia, which offers a 43.5% tax rebate and has no investigational new drug application requirement, to win business from sponsors that want to accelerate their first steps into the clinic. However, the CRO has then faced challenges as clients have progressed and expanded programs to include US sites, leading to the buyout of Seattle-based C3.
“We have been limited by not having our own presence in the US. For some biotech companies the use of a trusted CRO partner model is not ideal,” said Avance CEO Yvonne Lungershausen. “Our US footprint and global solution now allows us to seamlessly transition programs into North America as the one single organization with full CRO services, without loss of revenue and reduced management burden.”
As sponsors come to add sites beyond Australia and New Zealand, Avance’s traditional areas of focus, the newly enlarged CRO will seek to retain their business by offering the support of its North American unit. Avance is pitching the model, branded GlobalReady, as a way to retain study knowledge, processes, and teams, and operationalize global dose-escalation and dose-expansion trials across the two regions.
The CRO is planning “significant investments” in its US operations to support the model. Through the investments, Avance wants to grow the team to more than 120 people and establish expertise in a range of therapeutic areas, particularly oncology.
Avance has now begun integrating its systems and processes with those of C3. Lungershausen said the CRO’s decision to buy a trusted partner that it has experience of working with is a reflection of its desire to ensure there is already a “strong business alignment which will facilitate a smooth integration,” a critical process for all takeovers.
“We have engaged experienced professionals to support our integration and have developed a comprehensive integration plan,” said the CEO. “We are taking a considered and stepwise approach to integration with no plans to lose people and indeed the opposite – we have plans to expand the already solid footprint that we now have in North America.”
The North American acquisition, which follows a private equity investment in Avance, reflects the fact the progress of programs from Australia and New Zealand to the US makes “perfect logical sense for most of our clients,” said Lungershausen. However, the CEO is “not dismissing opportunities in Asia and Europe as next steps.”