Private equity house Maven injects £1.6m into drug firm

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Glasgow-based private equity house Maven Capital Partners has completed a £1.6 million investment in a Lanarkshire pharmaceutical firm, helping create ten jobs.

Maven, which describes itself as one of the most active firms of its kind in the UK, has highlighted the injection by its Venture Capital Trusts in BioAscent Discovery, an integrated drug discovery services business.

The funding will enable BioAscent to “significantly” expand its service offering, adding complementary chemistry and biology services that will help it stand out in its field, fund additional laboratory space, and help create highly skilled scientific positions.

It will also enable it to capitalise on a growing trend of outsourcing drug discovery activities, with the firm eyeing a global drug discovery market worth $22 billion (£16.6bn) that is forecast to see double-digit growth over the next five years.

The organisation was founded by former pharmaceutical executives responsible for delivering numerous clinical drug candidates over the past 30 years, and is located in the biology and chemistry laboratories of the former Merck Sharpe and Dohme R&D site at Newhouse, including full robotic systems operating in a controlled atmosphere.

It recently assembled a team of expert biologists and medicinal chemists that have a track record of taking drugs from concept to clinical candidate across all major therapeutic areas to deliver its drug discovery service offering. The provision of integrated drug discovery services is expected to drive BioAscent’s growth.

Chief executive Paul Smith said the firm offers “world-class” expertise in the drug discovery disciplines of biosciences and medicinal chemistry. “With our established compound management and screening facilities we can work with clients right from the earliest stages of the drug discovery process, which gives us a stand-out advantage over other providers.”

David Milroy, investment director at Maven, said: “BioAscent, with its highly regarded team and impressive state-of-the-art facility, is ideally placed to capitalise on the increasing demand within the market for high quality drug discovery services… I am very much looking forward to working with the management team to scale the business.”

Glenn Crocker, chief executive at BioCity, a major shareholder in BioAscent, said: “This is a major milestone in the development of BioAscent, with the investment from Maven validating the successful development of the business over recent years. I am very pleased BioCity remains a major shareholder in the company and look forward to continuing to work with Maven and the management team to grow the business further.”

Maven in April said it had completed a £1.1m investment in private higher education college WaterBear Education. The private equity firm has invested more than £350m in SMEs across the UK since 2009.