Summa Equity acquires Axion BioSystems, to accelerate understanding of cell behaviour in drug discovery and development

Summa Equity Fund II has acquired Axion BioSystems, a US life science tools business specializing in the development, production, and marketing of MEA (Microelectrode Arrays) and impedance technologies. Its tools are used to understand cell behavior and function in real-time, for applications including cell and gene therapy (CGT).

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16 July 2021, Stockholm, Sweden: Summa Equity Fund II (“Summa”) has acquired a majority stake in Axion BioSystems, a leading provider of MEA and impedance technology for single-cell analysis. Axion BioSystems provides an integrated technology platform for cell activity monitoring, based on its unique Bioelectronic Assay technology. The instruments are used by academia and biopharma customers, the Assays allow for non-invasive, real time study of cells.

Founded in 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia, by Tom O’Brien and Jim Ross Ph.D., Axion BioSystems originally developed its technology from a graduate research project at Georgia Tech. Now operating across North America, EMEA and APAC, the company has placed more than 500 systems to date and has grown to more than 60 full-time employees.

Understanding cell behaviour is central to some of the most important segments of pharmaceuticals, including the development of cell and gene therapeutics and understanding drug safety. Cell and gene therapy (CGT) are the fastest growing segments within the pharmaceuticals sector, with the promise of treating, preventing or potentially curing a whole host of acquired and genetic diseases, including cancer. Axion BioSystems is well-placed to capitalize on this demand and help to accelerate the development of CGT, with market-leading technology in a large and rapidly growing market.

Summa Equity’s investment in Axion BioSystems aligns with its focus on solving global challenges, and supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG #3 ‘Strengthen health measures and medical standards globally and ensure the well-being of individuals’, and #9 ‘Enhancing scientific research and supporting technology development and innovation’.

Tommi Unkuri, Partner at Summa Equity, commented:

"Summa has been focused on solutions in the CGT market for a long period of time, due to its alignment with our strategy and its significant potential for growth. Axion BioSystems impressed us with its market-leading, highly competitive and scalable technology, which gives both academics and biopharma organisations the ability to go much deeper in their understanding of cell behaviour, enabling faster, more accurate and more cost-efficient drug discovery, development and quality control. We look forward to working with the team as it continues to develop its technology and grow its market share, while continuing to solve some of society’s biggest pharmaceutical and healthcare challenges."

Tom O’Brien, CEO & President of Axion BioSystems, commented:

"We have been highly impressed with Summa’s understanding of the life sciences market, and belief in the potential of our technology to accelerate innovation in many areas of pharmaceuticals and healthcare. We believe that they will bring tremendous value in helping us to increase our commercial capacity, reach and market awareness, to scale up significantly, and have an even greater impact in the years to come.

For the transaction, William Blair acted as exclusive financial advisor, Jones Day as legal advisors and Wipfli as accounting and tax advisor to Axion BioSystems. White & Case acted as legal and debt financing advisor, PwC as FDD and tax advisor, and Frank Partners as ESG advisor to Summa Equity."

About Summa Equity

Summa Equity invests in companies that are solving global challenges and creating positive Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) outcomes for society.

Summa’s purpose is to co-create win-win for investors, portfolio companies, and society through aligning its vision and outcomes to the Sustainable Development Goals, ensuring a net-positive impact against ESG challenges, and the potential for long-term, sustainable outperformance.

Investments are focused on industries and companies within three sustainability megatrends: Resource Efficiency, Changing Demographics, and Tech-Enabled Businesses. Across these themes, Summa’s portfolio companies are supporting a world in transition and showing that business can be part of the solution. Summa Equity has more than €1.4bn of assets under management.

About Axion BioSystems

Axion BioSystems is a leading life science tools company focused on developing and commercializing label-free, bioelectronic assays used to study the function of live cells in vitro, to enable drug discovery, and disease modeling. The team at Axion BioSystems is dedicated to continuing the advancement of technologies in bioelectronic assays that enable the understanding of biological complexity outside of the body. Axion BioSystems is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, and also has an office in Shanghai, China. Axion BioSystems has more than 60 employees across its current locations.

For interviews or more information, please contact:

Hannah Gunvor Jacobsen
Head of IR and Communication at Summa Equity
+47 936 41 960

Anna King
PR Representative, Summa Equity
+44 7878 485 851


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