Risk-sharing researcher Evotec buys an academic pipeline

Germany's Evotec has signed a deal to buy up a biopharma asset management company and get its hands on some promising drug candidates, broadening its novel approach to the CRO game by adding some unpartnered assets to its stable of collaborations.

Without disclosing financial details, Evotec said it's acquiring Bionamics, a three-person company that has made its name picking up the rights to academic projects with industry potential, largely in the central nervous system sector. The deal brings in an unspecified number of assets, Evotec said, stretching out the company's business model to include products of its own.

To date Evotec's business has largely focused on risk-splitting projects with Big Pharma sponsors, in which the company often handles development of an external candidate in exchange for CRO fees and a cut of future profits. That model has attracted partners including Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), but now, through the Bionamics acquisition and a project called EVT Innovate, the company is expanding to include a more bottom-up approach to drug development.

Bionamics Managing Director Timm Jessen, who served as Evotec's CEO for 7 years, will rejoin the company and lead the effort to find homes for EVT Innovate projects, which stem from a consortium of academic and biotech partners. 

"The combination of our management skills with Evotec's strong operational capabilities offers a unique constellation for researchers and entrepreneurs around the globe to accelerate their innovation together with us," Jessen said in a statement.

Risk-sharing arrangements--in which CROs stretch beyond the usual contractor relationship and take a financial stake in a project--are becoming more and more popular in the drug development world, including WuXi PharmaTech's ($WX) partnership with Ambrx, inVentiv Health's collaboration with Oncobiologics and Ergomed's co-development tie-up with Cel-Sci ($CVM).

- read the statement

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