Axol and CENSO unveil merger and $5.3m investment


Cell technology specialists Axol Bioscience and CENSO Biotechnologies have agreed to merge and announced an associated investment round of more than $5.3 million led by Calculus Capital and Par Equity. 

The investment will be used to enable growth of the business and acquisition of talent to meet customer demand.

Axol is headquartered at Chesterford Research Park and is an established provider of iPSC-derived cells, media, and characterisation services.

CENSO is headquartered in Edinburgh but has facilities at Babraham Research Campus and is a cell biology CRO with focused expertise in iPSC-related technologies. 

The combined business will become a leading provider of product and service solutions in the iPSC-based neuroscience, immune cell, and cardiac modelling for drug discovery and screening markets.

It will offer customers validated ready-to-use cell lines and a suite of services with broader expertise, robust functional data, and customisation capabilities, all with shorter lead times.

Axol Bioscience’s investors include Dr Jonathan Milner and award-winning EIS fund manager, Calculus Capital. CENSO Biotechnologies’ major investor is leading Edinburgh-based EIS fund manager, Par Equity. 

Axol Bioscience CEO Liam Taylor and the Axol senior leadership team will take over the management of the combined entity with the intent to migrate the brand to Axol Bioscience. The agreement sees CENSO’s interim CEO, Dr Tom Stratford, appointed non-executive director of the combined board on behalf of Par Equity.

Taylor said: “Axol has experienced a rapid increase in demand for their iPSC-based products and services over the last three years. Merging with CENSO immediately and significantly grows our scientific team and breadth of expertise.

“That, and the addition of two sites for iPSC-derived cell line manufacturing and custom service work, will increase our production capacity and future-proof our organisation to ensure demand can continue to be met with the short lead times and quality that our customers depend on.”

Dr Stratford added: “CENSO’s strength is our scientific team, as trusted partners in designing, executing, and managing custom project work. The combined entity will now be able to leverage Axol’s strength in iPSC-derived cells as well as complementary services such as electrophysiology to further our ability and efficiency to serve customers. 

“We bring to bear capabilities, bandwidth, and expertise to scale the manufacturing of those tools in a way that benefits both customer bases and the wider market.”

Jonathan Milner, founder, and former CEO of Abcam and chairman of the Axol Bioscience board, felt the move could be transformational for both enterprises.

He said: “Consolidating these two players in the iPSC space that have complementary expertise and offerings is the most direct and low risk path to gaining a more competitive market position and moving both organisations from thriving startups to a more polished commercial entity that is able to meet aggressive demand increases.”

Published on: 17.03.21

Article sourced from Business Weekly