The Nov Santé Actions Non Cotées fund – initiated by France Assureurs and Caisse des Dépôts, managed by Eurazeo1 and focused on developing the French healthcare sector – has bought a minority stake in the Oncodesign Services group for €22 million, alongside management and ERES IV SLP, a fund managed by Edmond de Rothschild Private Equity (France) and advised by Elyan Partners2. The transaction relates to the acquisition of Dutch company ZoBio, Oncodesign Services’ first acquisition since it was founded, in pursuit of its aim of becoming a CRO3 that offers a full range of pre-clinical research services.
Oncodesign Services is a CRO created when the Oncodesign group was divided into two independent companies in 2022: a listed biotech company called Oncodesign Precision Medicine, and pre-clinical research and drug discovery company Oncodesign Services, whose acquisition by ERES IV involved Elyan Partners as advisor in 2022.
Since 1995, Oncodesign Services has been a leading provider of drug discovery and pre-clinical services in the fields of oncology and immuno-inflammation. It offers a broad array of services including recognized skills and expertise in medicinal chemistry, pharmaco-imaging, molecular radiotherapy, and in vitro and in vivo bio-analysis. Through its client base consisting of biotech and pharmaceutical companies, it is a major contributor to pre-clinical research and a leader in its field in Europe. Oncodesign Services has used its expertise to successfully develop several drug candidates for clients that have reached the clinical phase of development. It is aiming to become a European leader in drug discovery by offering a range of integrated services, putting operational excellence at the heart of its strategy and investing in the latest innovative technologies.
Oncodesign Services is based in Dijon and Les Ulis in France, with subsidiaries in the United States and Canada, and employs around 230 people. Nov Santé’s investment has enabled Oncodesign Services to fund the acquisition of Dutch company ZoBio, which specializes in pre-clinical small-molecule research. The acquisition will boost the group’s revenue to €44 million and its headcount to around 280, including around 50 based in Leiden in the Netherlands. The acquisition means that Oncodesign Services can offer its clients a seamless array of pre-clinical research services – strengthening the group’s strategy, adopted several years ago, of having integrated, multidisciplinary service offerings – and accelerate its international expansion.
ZoBio was founded almost 20 years ago and has acquired a reputation for scientific excellence and innovation in the field of biophysics, as part of research to identify drug candidates, allowing its clients to bring several candidates to the clinical phase of development. The company has developed a range of services based on the very early stages of pre-clinical small-molecule research, focusing on expressing therapeutic targets, identifying and selecting high-quality hits, using its expertise in protein science, screening, biophysical testing, structural biology and its unique, well-diversified library of small-molecule fragments.
Nov Santé Actions Non Cotées’ investment in connection with this deal increases the resources at Oncodesign Services’ disposal to fund further acquisitions and allows it to benefit from the fund’s expertise as an investor specializing in life sciences.
Arnaud Vincent, Managing Director of the Nov Santé Actions Non Cotées fund, said:
“The outsourcing of pharmaceutical research services is a fundamental trend around the world. To ensure that we are self-reliant in healthcare, it is vital that we keep leading players in this field within France and Europe. The aim is to support scientific know-how in drug discovery, the first link in the healthcare chain. We are very proud to be able to work with Oncodesign Services in achieving its ambition of becoming a leading player in drug discovery.”
Jean-François Félix and Maxence de Vienne, Partners at Elyan, sole advisor to the ERES IV fund, added:
“We are delighted to welcome Eurazeo Nov Santé as an investor in Oncodesign Services, in order to give the company additional resources for acquisitions. The purchase of ZoBio reflects our ambition, which we share with Oncodesign Services’ management team, to build a European leader in pre-clinical services. This is a strategic deal for Oncodesign Services, which is acquiring the expertise it needs to develop an integrated offering from identifying therapeutic targets to carrying out regulatory pre-clinical work. It allows the group to step up its growth and international expansion through ZoBio’s strong presence in North America and base in the Netherlands, combined with Oncodesign Services’ excellent position in Europe.”