University of Edinburgh spin-out Aquila BioMedical has been acquired by drug discovery and development group Concept Life Sciences. Aquila, spun out of the University in 2011, is a pre-clinical contract research organisation with expertise in immuno-oncology, immunology and multiplex histology.

Concept Life Sciences, based in Manchester, said the acquisition was “a pivotal addition” to its services.

Customer needs

Michael Fort, Executive Chairman of Concept Life Sciences, said: “We are excited to add Aquila to the Concept group. The company’s offering in translational biology adds significant value to our current discovery services, and broadens the wider group’s therapy offering. Both Aquila and Concept have been built around the same value of working closely with customers to tailor services according to the project objectives, and together we will provide high quality, integrated solutions.”

Aquila has developed novel technologies to help customers to better understand the cellular and molecular events that occur with compound administration. Bespoke assays allow both phenotypic screening and target based research methods, to enable hit identification and optimisation of compound and target selection, directly increasing the compound success rate and reducing the overall cost associated with drug development.

From research to industry

Professor Jonathan Seckl, Vice-Principal of Planning, Resources and Research Policy at the University of Edinburgh, said: “We congratulate the Aquila team on this milestone in their approach to building advanced biology into innovative drug discovery. This investment highlights the University’s commitment to successfully translating our world-class research into practical application by industry.”

Aquila has received support from Edinburgh Innovations at the University of Edinburgh, from the formation of the company in 2011 through to its acquisition.

Professor Stephen Anderton, co-founder of Aquila Biomedical and Professor of Therapeutic Immunology at the University of Edinburgh, said: “We are delighted to be joining the Concept Life Sciences group at this stage in both companies’ development cycles. Concept’s size, business development network and complementary scientific capacity will make the enhanced service offering attractive to the widest group of international clients, and will significantly accelerate our growth.”

Dr Howard Marriage, entrepreneur and co-founder and Chairman of Aquila BioMedical, said: “The board is immensely grateful to Clare Doris, COO, and her talented and committed team of 25 staff who have built an international client base and profitable business over the last six years. I look forward to the continued development of the Aquila contribution to Concept Life Science from their base in Edinburgh’s BioQuarter.”


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