Evotec Diversifies into Biologics with $90 Million Acquisition of Just Biotherapeutics

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Germany-based Evotec SE followed up a string of collaborations with pharma companies with the $90 million acquisition of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-backed Just Biotherapeutics.

Evotec said the all-cash deal for the Seattle-based Just.Bio will provide it with additional business opportunities as the company looks to diversify into biologics. The acquisition grows Evotec's business into a comprehensive offering including biologics in therapeutic areas such as oncology, CNS, pain, inflammation, metabolics and infectious diseases, the company said in its announcement. Also, the company said the acquisition will accelerate Evotec's long-term strategy to be the industry partner of choice for external end-to-end innovation. Just.Bio, which was founded in 2015, is a technology company that integrates highly synergistic scientific expertise and machine learning-driven technologies for design, development, and manufacturing of biologics. Evotec said the acquisition will add to its revenue growth and will strengthen Evotec's overall strategic plan.

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One of the key pieces of technology cited by Evotec in its announcement is Just.Bio’s J.DESIGN integrated technology platform. That platform is intended to enable efficient biologics' drug development from design and lead optimization to manufacturing. In addition to that technology, Evotec noted that it sees significant potential in Just.Bio’s J.POD technology for flexible and modular larger scale manufacturing of clinical and commercial stage biologics.

As part of the deal, Just.Bio’s chief executive officer, Jim Thomas, will join the Evotec leadership team as global head of biotherapeutics and president of Evotec’s U.S. operations. Thomas said combining Just.Bio with Evotec creates a “technological powerhouse” that fuel’s the company’s long-term vision of making important biologics accessible to patients across the globe. He added that Just.Bio’s 90 employees are “thrilled” to be part of the Evotec team.

“We are excited about the acquisition and warmly welcome Just.Bio's expert team as a new part of the Evotec family,” Werner Lenthaler, CEO of Evotec said in a statement. Broadening our platform into biologics has always been key to our strategy. With this acquisition we finally found the perfect match to complement our leadership in small molecules.”

The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2019.

For Evotec, the acquisition of Just.Bio comes on the heels of multiple collaborations it has struck this year. Last month the company announced a colorectal cancer collaboration with Indivumed GmbH. That followed a March collaboration with the Mark Foundation for Cancer Research to discover and develop first-in-class therapeutics in oncology. Also in March, Evotec and Switzerland-based Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership forged a partnership to tackle the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.

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