Clinipace eyes acquisitions after raising $50M

Jeff Williams, CEO of Clinipace Worldwide
Jeff Williams, CEO of Clinipace Worldwide None

Contract research organization Clinipace Worldwide has closed on $50 million in new financing to propel its ambitions for further acquisitions.

The rapidly expanding Morrisville-based company is in the midst of negotiations with one company and has others in its sights, said CEO Jeff Williams.

The new financing is a combination of debt and equity. Although Clinipace can adjust how much debt and how much equity goes into each acquisition, “at the end of the day, it will probably end up to be about 50/50,” Williams said.

Clinipace, which has 700 employees worldwide, including about 65 in Morrisville, is an old hand at acquisitions – having made five over the last five years. Its most recent deal was the purchase last year of Choice Pharma, a 120-employee company based in Hong Kong.

Although Clinipace has bulked up with acquisitions, “we have always had a very strong organic growth rate” as well, Williams said.

In 2014 the privately held company generated $82 million in revenue, up 40 percent from 2013. Roughly half that growth came from acquisitions and half was organic, Williams said.

“Clinipace has really come of age,” said Clay Thorp, co-founder and general partner of Hatteras Venture Partners, a Durham venture capital firm that has invested in the business. “Over the past six years, the company has gone from a start-up software company to a significant CRO with a strong technology backbone that differentiates it.”

Clinipace started out selling software used by drug companies to collect and manage data generated during clinical trials but transformed itself into a full-service CRO in 2009.

Contract research organizations such as Clinipace help pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies test experimental drugs and analyze the results. The Triangle is the epicenter of the industry and boasts more CRO workers than anywhere else.

Clinipace’s latest financing was led by Virgo Investment Group, a California-based private equity firm. Existing investors also participated.