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A New Concept For Contract R&D

Research For Hire: U.K.-based Concept Life Sciences seeks to be new player in outsourced science

by Michael McCoy
July 14, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 28

A chemist at work at Peakdale Molecular.
Credit: Peakdale
These Peakdale chemistry labs are now part of Concept Life Sciences.

A new contract research organization, Concept Life Sciences, has been formed through the acquisition of three British firms. Taking advantage of a fragmented research services market, Concept’s backers hope to expand their business to $175 million in annual sales within the next three years.

Credit: Concept Life Sciences
Alan Morgan, CEO of Concept Life Sciences
Credit: Concept Life Sciences

With financing from the private equity firm Equistone Partners Europe, Concept has acquired Peakdale Molecular, Scientific Analysis Laboratories (SAL), and Resource & Environmental Consultants (REC).

Peakdale is a provider of medicinal chemistry services that employs more than 100 organic chemists in Chapel-en-le-Frith and at the former Pfizer R&D labs in Sandwich. SAL operates five laboratories offering analytical services for industries including chemicals and food. REC provides environmental consulting.

The three deals, for companies that together employ more than 500 people, have a combined value of $100 million, Concept says. Rather than rebrand the companies under its own name, Concept intends to operate them as a “federation” of associated companies.

Concept CEO Alan Morgan says follow-on deals are already in the works, including ones in the U.S. and Germany. “The marketplace is highly fragmented,” he says. Morgan contends that his federation can compete successfully against research service giants such as Covance and Eurofins Scientific.

Drug companies are outsourcing more and more to contractors such as Peakdale, notes Adrian Gibb, a partner with the life sciences practice of Ernst & Young who carried out commercial due diligence on the deals for Equistone. Gibb says Peakdale can open the door to the drug industry for SAL, which is now focused on food and industrial clients.

Morgan claims that Concept can withstand Asian competition in chemistry-related services. He reckons that the global outsourced chemistry market is worth upward of $850 million annually, about half of which has migrated to Asia in recent years. “But we believe that has stabilized and that the trend is starting to reverse,” he says, “as large pharma companies recognize the value of complex projects being executed in time zones more conducive to communication.”



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