PharmaCell sold to Lonza

june 1, 2017

Lonza successfully completed the acquisition of PharmaCell, one of the most respected cell and gene contract manufacturers in Europe with employees in Maastricht and Sittard-Geleen (NL). In 2016, PharmaCell had sales of EUR 11 million. PharmaCell was primarily selected due to its core expertise in autologous cell and gene therapy manufacturing, which includes experience with two commercial Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs) - licensed products. Autologous therapies use a patient’s own cells, allogeneic therapies use donor cells.

"PharmaCell’s position in the market complements Lonza’s leadership position in the allogeneic cell manufacturing market," said Andreas Weiler, Head of Emerging Technologies at Lonza. "This acquisition broadens Lonza’s capabilities in Europe and positions Lonza as the only contract development and manufacturing organization to offer an international cell and gene therapy manufacturing network, spanning the United States, Europe and Asia." Lonza is one of the world’s leading and most-trusted suppliers to the pharmaceutical, biotech and specialty ingredients markets.

PharmaCell was founded in 2005 at the Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus, when cell manufacturing was still in its infancy. In the past few years, PharmaCell has grown into a leading contract manufacturing organization (CMO) for cell and gene therapy and regenerative medicine in Europe. It became the manufacturer of the only two European-approved commercial cell therapy products. In 2014 the company expanded to the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Sittard-Geleen for scale up and production. At its two locations PharmaCell has a workforce of 120 and employs more than 6,000 m2 of GMP clean rooms, QC and other support spaces. The products, which are often still in clinical development, find application in the field of oncology, orthopedic and gastrointestinal diseases.

Alexander Vos, CEO of PharmaCell comments: “Over the past 7 years we have been able to contract many of the blue chip cell therapy companies. I am proud of my team, which has been able to deliver high quality GMP-manufacturing services in this emerging and challenging field”.

Casper Bruens, Chairman of PharmaCell until its acquisition and director of Limburg Ventures: “PharmaCell has made a tough but rewarding journey to prove that cell therapies can be upscaled successfully and used to cure patients. It has at times been difficult but always inspiring to work with excellent people who believed from the start in the success of cell therapy in this region. I believe that the company will be able to grow even stronger in the hands of a company with a reputation and a balance sheet as strong as that of Lonza”.

Jan Cobbenhagen, co-initiator of PharmaCell and currently CEO of Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus says: "PharmaCell started a two-person startup in 2005 at the Biopartner Center at Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus. We saw a chance to take the lead in the biotech developments around cell culture by putting down a GMP certified cleanroom facility for product development and cell therapy production. Partly due to investments from (semi) public entities in the region, such as Univenture (Maastricht University investment company), LIOF, Chemelot Ventures and Maastricht UMC +, PharmaCell has become an international leading company in the field of cell technology. Through the sale of PharmaCell, Brightlands is able to connect a key player as Lonza with the Brightlands ecosystem."

Twan Beurskens, Regional Minister of Economic Affairs and Knowledge Infrastructure for the Province of Limburg adds: "The jump that the company now makes is a merit of PharmacCell itself, but also of cooperation between many parties in the region. It is an example that proves the value of the Brightlands ecosystem for startups and PharmaCell will certainly not be the last one."

Achelous Partners, LLC served as financial advisors to PharmaCell on the transaction. Boels Zanders acted as PharmaCell’s legal counsel.

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