Opportunities across e-clinical value chain drive GTCR’s formation of Harpula

The Harpula platform is aimed around improving the efficiency of drug research and development.

GTCR is applying its Leaders Strategy approach with one of the Chicago-based firms’ latest platforms – Harpula.

GTCR will partner with Steve Powell and Mary Mattes to form Harpula Health Holdings. The Raleigh, North Carolina-based company will seek to acquire companies and assets in the technology-enabled pharmaceutical solutions industry as part of a strategy to “build a market-leading company focused on improving the efficiency of drug research and development.”

Powell, who has over 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical services industry, most recently served as chief executive officer of Synteract, a biotechnology-focused contract research organization.

Mattes most recently served as executive vice president, global operations, for the Synteract division of Syneos Health and brings over 25 years of industry experience.

PE Hub spoke with Geoffrey Tresley, principal, and Ben Daverman, managing director and co-head of healthcare at GTCR, about opportunities in the pharmaceutical solutions space and their vision for the platform.

“We’re focused on building a platform around improving the efficiency of drug research and development, specifically, technologies that lower the cost, and increase the speed of clinical trial delivery,” explained Tresley. “To do that, we’re looking at founder and sponsor backed companies, as well as carve-out opportunities across the e-clinical value chain.”

He added that the goal is to build a “more holistic solution that addresses critical pain points around site selection and feasibility, patient recruitment and retention, and the collection and analysis of clinical trial and safety data.”

“The clinical landscape remains highly fragmented,” he said. “There’s an opportunity to build through acquisition and organic growth, a much more coordinated technology solution. M&A and organic growth are going to be a key part of the strategy here.”

GTCR has been cultivating the pipeline for this platform, which Tresley said is building “very nicely.”

“We are actively pursuing a few opportunities,” he said. “Currently, Steve and Mary have a great network and deep domain expertise, which is proving highly additive as we develop higher priority targets.”

Daverman noted that the firm is trying to capitalize on some of the trends in technology and tech enabled services going into pharma services.

GTCR’s Geoffrey Tresley and Ben Daverman.

“Specifically the clinical trial ecosystem,” he said. “There’s increasing complexity and outsourcing of clinical trials and therefore the capabilities that are needed for clinical trials. With Harpula, we will invest behind our management team to identify assets that we can acquire to build a leading company that provides these critical tech enabled services into pharma and clinical trials.”

GTCR’s Leaders Strategy approach involves partnering with exceptional management leaders in its core domains to identify, acquire and build market-leading companies through acquisitions and organic growth.

“Steve and Mary share similar views and investment thesis in the tech enabled pharma services space. Because of that, we all decided to lock arms and form Harpula to execute on this strategy,” said Daverman.

With the eroding economic situation, PE Hub has heard from sources that as companies try to tighten their financial belts they will be focused more on core assets, perhaps opening up more corporate carve-outs.

Daverman noted that among some of the pipeline opportunities, there are carve-outs.

“Our firm has a long history and track record of executing corporate carve-out transactions,” he said. “We’re constantly proactively looking to acquire and invest and oftentimes bring a team to that part of the carve-out transaction. And then we can also be a great partner to a company that has institutional capital, debt and who perhaps might consider a recapitalization of a business at that level.”

This is GTCR’s second platform formation in as many weeks, as it formed Blucrest near the end of October.