Axol Bioscience and CENSO Biotechnologies sign merger agreement

Axol Bioscience Ltd, an established provider of iPSC-derived cells, media, and characterization services, and CENSO Biotechnologies, a cell biology CRO with focused expertise in iPSC-related technologies, have signed a merger agreement.

The new entity will become a leading provider of product and service solutions in the iPSC-based neuroscience, immune cell, and cardiac modeling 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 customization capabilities, all with shorter lead times. 

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

The transaction is accompanied by a fundraising round in excess £3.8m, 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. 

Under the terms of the agreement, 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. 

Liam Taylor, CEO Axol, 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 organization to ensure demand can continue to be met with the short lead times and quality that our customers depend on.” 

Dr Tom Stratford, CENSO interim CEO and non-executive director of the combined board, on behalf of Par Equity said: “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.” 

Dr Jonathan Milner, founder, and former CEO of Abcam and chairman of the Axol Bioscience board, 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 organizations from thriving start-ups to a more polished commercial entity that is able to meet aggressive demand increases.”

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