London healthcare firm snaps up Velocity Clinical Research after COVID-19 changes the trial paradigm

U.K.-based healthcare venture firm GHO Capital has bought out siteless trial specialist Velocity Clinical Research from its D.C.-based VC owner NaviMed Capital.

Durham, North Carolina-based Velocity operates 16 fully-owned sites across 11 states, working with biopharmas and contract research organizations and focusing on mid- and late-stage trials.

Since its incorporation back in 2017, Velocity has worked with more than 200 biopharma clients, including all of the top 10 pharma sponsors, and its sites have collectively conducted over 5,000 clinical trials.

GHO now takes this on, and the deal comes amid a boon in interest in this sector, with COVID-19 showing how quickly trials can get up and running when time is of the essence.

“The industry demonstrated last year that by speeding up the rate of patient recruitment, sponsors can get drugs and vaccines to market quicker than previously accepted,” GHO said in a statement announcing its buyout.

“This was at unprecedented speed in the case of COVID-19 where the industry collectively recruited 30,000 US-based volunteers per study across multiple studies in just 4-6 weeks, which normally would have taken 6 to 12 months.”

This clearly piqued the firm’s interest and builds on the rush to use or buy up decentralized trial firms, which have become all the rage amid the pandemic.  

Financial details were not disclosed.

“Today’s announcement signals the future for the clinical trials industry,” said G. Paul Evans, M.D., CEO and president of Velocity. “Velocity's model was put to the test last year during the race to find a COVID vaccine, demonstrating that our integrated approach to running clinical sites is head and shoulders above others. We have been more agile and quicker to adapt in response to the needs of both CROs and patients.

“NaviMed has been a great partner for us, working with us on the direction for the company while giving our senior management team the freedom to execute on strategic decisions. The business of owning clinical trial sites is changing and it's difficult for other companies to scale in this space. Our experienced team knows how to run sites and we feel that GHO is the right partner to back Velocity, as we move into our next phase of growth thanks to their experience in pharmaceutical services.”

This comes just a few weeks after Velocity bought up Downtown Women’s Health Care and Riverside Clinical Research as it sought to increase volunteer recruitment “from minority communities” while expanding into renal and hepatic research.

Downtown Women's Health Care in Denver focuses on studies primarily in endometriosis, birth control and hot flash research. Velocity says this buy is “also a critical market for recruiting volunteers from the Hispanic community.”

It also snapped up Riverside Clinical Research, allowing Velocity work with the clinic's database of 35,000 patients for both kidney and liver studies through phases 1 to 4.

These acquisitions came after Velocity recently announced it had recruited over 10,000 patients to COVID-19 vaccine trials since July last year.

“We are impressed with what Paul and the team have achieved in just a few years,” said the partners at GHO Capital in a collective statement. “It is clear from the extent to which they were involved in the coronavirus vaccine trials that they know how to run sites and adapt when needed.

“Several of the Partners at GHO have experience of working with Paul and senior members of his team through shared experience at IQVIA, so we started this process with confidence in one another. We believe GHO, with its exclusive focus on healthcare, is uniquely positioned to help Velocity take advantage of the opportunities now available to them, which will accelerate their growth.”