M&A Activity: Local biotech startup AxoSim makes an acquisition

August 17, 2023

G.F. Gay Le Breton And Ryan Gerton, Contributing Writers//August 8, 2023


New Orleans biotech startup AxoSim, Inc. reached an agreement in July with Vyant Bio, Inc. to acquire the microBrain-associated assets of its StemoniX subsidiary.  Effective immediately, AxoSim will have exclusive distribution rights to market the StemoniX microBrain technology platform to pharmaceutical and biotechnology customers.

The all-cash transaction, valued at up to $3.45 million pending certain milestones, is subject to approval by Vyant Bio’s shareholders and is expected to close in the next several months.

AxoSim is a leader in development and application of human biomimetic platforms for advancing novel therapies for neurological disorders like ALS, Parkinson’s disease, neuropathic pain, and rare epilepsies. The StemoniX microBrain and AxoSim NerveSim and BrainSim platforms use human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to create live in vitro models of human brain and nerve structures called organoids. These biomimetic organoids provide faster and more efficient neurological drug discovery, enabling the selection of safer and more effective drug candidates.

Lowry Curley, PhD, co-founder and CEO of AxoSim said his company is “excited at the opportunity to combine our NerveSim and BrainSim platforms with the StemoniX microBrain technology, along with their expert staff and state-of-the-art R&D and manufacturing facility in Minnesota.”

“We see these platforms as highly complementary and synergistic, giving us the opportunity to create a category-leading powerhouse in the field,” he said.

Andrew LaFrence, president, CEO and CFO of Vyant Bio, expressed confidence in the partnership.

“We believe that AxoSim is the perfect partner for our StemoniX microBrain technology,” LaFrence said. “AxoSim shares our commitment to transforming neurological drug discovery and development through advanced biomimetic technology. We also share a track record of scientific innovation and leadership in this rapidly evolving field.” The sale of the StemoniX assets to AxoSim is part of Vyant Bio’s process to wind down its business.

The transaction calls for payments from AxoSim to Vyant Bio of $2.25 million, of which $1.1 million will be paid at close and the remainder based on milestones and the expiration of the indemnification period and release from escrow pursuant to the transaction agreement. In addition, AxoSim will assume approximately $1.2 million of future lease-related liabilities. AxoSim intends to finance the acquisition and the accompanying operational expansion with participation from current and new investors.

Over the past few years, AxoSim has raised more than $10 million from a dozen backers, including Benson Capital Partners. Located at the New Orleans BioInnovation Center, AxoSim spun out of Tulane University in 2014.

Also in July, in the red-hot landscaping space, Gretna-based commercial landscape firm Louisiana Landscape Specialty, Inc. (LLS), was purchased by Birmingham-based Landscape Workshop LLC for an undisclosed price.

LLS, a full-service installation and maintenance firm with three locations was founded by Randy Loup in 1983.  It has grown from a dozen employees to one of the largest landscape contracting companies in the Gulf, employing over 100 landscape professionals. Loup will join Landscape Workshop, assuming the role of Founder and Partner.

The buyer is a full-service grounds management firm, primarily focused on commercial outdoor spaces. Serving 17 Southeastern markets, Landscape Workshop operates in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, the Florida panhandle, and now Louisiana. Landscape Workshop is backed by Carousel Capital and McKinney Capital.

According to Business Valuation Resources, “The growth of regional and national landscaping companies has been spurred by the growth of real estate companies. This is also bolstered by the desire of real estate managers to reduce the number of vendors they deal with.”  Companies like Landscape Workshop tout their ability to provide services to customers who are geographically dispersed and require a broad range of landscaping services.

G.F. Gay Le Breton is managing director for Chaffe & Associates Inc., responsible for the merger and acquisition activities of the firm. Ryan Gerton is a research associate with the firm. Investment banking services are provided by Chaffe Securities Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. For more information, visit http://chaffe-associates.com.