Bioprinting Firm Cellink Signs €80M Deal to Buy Scienion AG


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Global bioprinting leader Cellink announced an agreement with the owners of Scienion AG, a German precision dispensing company, to acquire all company shares in an €80 million deal. Through this strategic acquisition, Cellink expects to expand its technology portfolio, particularly into the pharmaceutical industry and therapeutic field, as well as cater for processes from early R&D to standardized high throughput production. The company is particularly focusing on providing the entire workflow that researchers demand, everything from single-cell all the way to printed tissue and the analysis of that tissue.

The acquisition agreement announced on August 19, 2020, is expected to strengthen Cellink’s product offering and position as a market leader in precision dispensing, single-cell handling, and bioprinting. Scienion’s products are most suitable for diagnostics and pharmaceutical companies, an area into which Cellink is expanding further. Overall, the new deal will bring the group closer to the patient through products used in diagnostics on humans, supporting future growth into industrial and clinical applications.

“We are excited to welcome Scienion to the Cellink family of life-science companies with this strategic and synergistic acquisition. With this acquisition, we are further realizing Cellink’s vision to create the future of medicine by taking one step closer to the clinic and improving health around the world,” said Cellink CEO Erik Gatenholm. “Scienion has diligently built a globally leading position in the field of precision dispensing, creating a product portfolio with industrial systems that are capable of extremely precise dispensing of reagents and human cells. Many of these systems are today being used for the manufacturing of clinically approved devices used by patients around the globe.”

Cellink CEO Erik Gatenholm signs the acquisition agreement on August 19, 2020. (Image courtesy of Cellink)

Cellink expects to fund the transaction using a mix of shares and cash. Under the terms of the deal, the company will pay €40 million in cash and another €40 million in newly issued series B Cellink shares at a price of 146.6 Swedish Krona ($16.87) per share, which translates to 2,814,032 shares and corresponds to approximately 4.9 percent of the votes and close to 6.5 percent of the share capital in Cellink. The completion of the deal and transfer of Scienion’s shares is expected to close later this August, provided that all the required conditions are met.

Applying the power of bioprinting technology and bioinks, Cellink enables researchers in the life sciences to print human organs and tissues for pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications, with a mission to create the future of medicine. As one of the most successful startups in the bioprinting segment, the company continues to provide technologies, products, and services to create, understand, and master cell and molecular biology, with a focus on three main application areas: bioprinting, analysis, and liquid handling and bioprocessing.

“With this transaction, we have a total addressable market of about $5 billion, and an opportunity for us, as a group of life science companies, to become this powerhouse in single-cell and low-volume, high-precision dispensing,” revealed Gatenholm during a webcast about the acquisition. “Scienion’s customer base is mostly diagnostic pharmaceutical and med-tech corporations. These companies are using Scienion’s technology very diligently for an integral part of their product development or product manufacturing. For us, it is a nice, steady business to be part of. We know we can continue to support these customers with the latest and greatest technologies, both from the R&D side using the technologies that were in the Cellink group, but now offer industrial systems and products to our R&D customers.”

The Cellink and Scienion teams together for the acquisition deal. (Image courtesy of Cellink)

Founded in December 2000 as a spin-off of the Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics, Scienion was originally focused on biochip platform technologies. However, with the successful launch of the sciFLEXARRAYER dispensing system in 2003, the company’s focus began to switch to hardware. Since then, it has become a leading actor in the pico and nano liter dispensing market, including single-cell dispensing. Developing and manufacturing technologies that enable precision dispensing for applications such as point-of-care (POC) biosensors used for diabetes monitoring, micro and nano arrays, diagnostics, compound handling, and high throughput single-cell genomics. Its instruments, consumables, and contract manufacturing services are produced and offered in Germany and are marketed and delivered worldwide.

Gatenholm described Scienion’s technology platforms as “revolutionary,” claiming that this new addition will streamline workflows for present and future customers, and enhance the company’s presence in the clinical field, a strategy that is well-aligned with Cellink’s long-term vision. He further explained that, through this new deal, Cellink will enhance its global commercial strategy by focusing on the patient and providing the most innovative solutions to its customers.

The transaction implies future revenues from Scienion, which reached €21.5 million during 2019, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34%. According to Gatenholm, the combined growth now has a 57% CAGR, and Cellink’s financial target is to reach organic sales growth of over 35% per year. Despite the challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which will likely negatively impact Scienion’s growth rate in 2020, the investment is expected to bounce back, benefitting from the large portion of the existing common customer base that is directly or indirectly government-backed, such as universities and research groups, mitigating the impact of the global pandemic.

Financial prospects for Cellink after signing the acquisition agreement. (Image courtesy of Cellink)

“We are thrilled about the unique opportunities this combination will create for our customers worldwide, as well as our employees and business partners,” said Dr. Holger Eickhoff, CEO of Scienion. “Together, the Cellink group and Scienion will be able to achieve rapid expansion while delivering the quality, brands, and products that our customers love. Together we will have some of the most respected, recognized, and storied brands in the global life science industry, and together we will create an even brighter future.”.

Through the addition of Scienion’s innovative instrumentation technology, Cellink aims to increase market penetration in the pharmaceutical field and meeting the diagnostics field. This is the third acquisition for Cellink, following successful deals with Dispendix and cytena, further positioning the company to offer more comprehensive solutions for academic, pharmaceutical, and clinical customers worldwide.

Through this new deal, Cellink will accelerate plans to offer customers a more efficient way to manage their needs. The companies’ synergies enable greater market opportunities for Cellink’s and Scienion’s product portfolio and global sales forces. But most importantly, by bringing together Scienion’s innovative technology product range, Cellink hopes to better equip researchers emerging from a pandemic that has triggered an unprecedented demand for new technologies that can adapt to novel research frameworks and become useful allies for new discoveries to enhance patient diagnostics, treatment, and care, as well as being an ideal partner to scale from R&D through manufacturing. It is an ideal next step for a company that hopes to move closer to the patient, improving healthcare for the coming decade.

Cellink CEO Erik Gatenholm and Scienion CEO Holger Eickhoff seal the signing of the acquisition agreement with a new form of handshake due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Image courtesy of Cellink)

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