Cambridge drug screening team shares in £1.3m investment backing

12/10/2018

Venture capital firm Par Equity has invested £1.3m in a rapidly growing stem-cell research company that is helping pharmaceutical giants to develop new treatments for diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Censo Biotechnologies, which employs teams in Cambridge and Edinburgh, provides drug discovery services to some of the best-known pharmaceutical and biotech companies in Europe, the US and Japan.

At its research facility on the Babraham Research Campus near Cambridge, it has developed its drug screening group, which provides high content testing services to pharmaceutical and biotech companies.

Censo is a leader in technology to produce stem cells in a laboratory from a person’s skin or blood sample, which are then transformed into brain and other types of cell for drug research. It has a rapidly expanding portfolio of major drug company clients who are choosing to outsource this specialised research to Censo.  

 The £1.3m investment into Censo will allow the company to expand its marketing and sales efforts and extend the commercial research services it provides to clients.

Censo CEO Aidan Courtney said: “This investment from Par Equity has come at exactly the right time for the company. Over the past two years we have developed a comprehensive suite of resources which allow us to create human stem cells from any individual and use derivatives of these cells to test drugs for clients. 

“Our focus on selected research areas, such as neuro-inflammation, has aligned extremely well with our clients’ needs and we are seeing more demand than we can accommodate with our current resources. Par Equity’s investment will allow us to broaden our service offering and accelerate growth.”

The investment comes from three sources – Par Equity’s Par Syndicate EIS Fund, which invests in young, innovative technology companies, the Par Syndicate, which is a network of specially selected expert investors, and the Scottish Investment Bank, which provides pledged capital to Par Equity as a co-investment partner of the Scottish Co-investment Fund. 

This mix of finance and practical assistance from experienced business people is ideally-suited to knowledge-intensive companies with high growth potential, an area on which Par Equity has focused since its first investment nearly ten years ago.

Par Equity partner Paul Munn said: “Our investment gives Censo the capital to build upon its important work, but we’re also very active managers. We’ll work closely with Censo’s management, drawing on the expertise and experience of our network of investors to give them the support they need to scale up this exciting business, which could help transform treatment of a number of serious diseases.”

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