SYNEXA: How a pioneering company grew into a global player in 15 years

logo synexaFounded in 2003 as an early pioneer in the new field of biomarker services, Synexa Life Sciences has grown to offer a comprehensive range of analytical and advisory services to global biopharmaceutical companies and now has laboratories in Berlin, Cape Town, Dublin as well as London.

Synexa offers deep expertise in biomarker selection and panel design for each phase of clinical development. Their biomarker programs are tailor-made to clients' needs, usually involving considerable up-front scientific collaboration. Their culture is research-based with scientists involved in all lab activities and analysis. This approach is critical to solving challenging problems in new assay development and to the identification of new insights into the clinical pharmacology of the drug.

Biomarker analysis helps drug researchers to determine and predict a new drug’s safety and efficacy profile, identify likely patient responders and non-responders, and better understand how the drug works. The global biomarker services industry has been growing very rapidly since 2010, as biopharma companies invest heavily in ‘precision medicine’ solutions - a future in which medical treatment and therapies are tailored to individual patients based on their predicted response or risk of disease.

The company operates through collaborative, risk-sharing partnerships with clients, aiming to deliver insights that significantly improve the quality of decision-making about a drug through each stage in its development. Synexa is a privately-held company, led by its three founders and a large team of experienced scientists.

We really value working with a mid-tier accounting firm, where we get access to the senior people and avoid the hierarchy that often comes with larger organisations.

Goodman Jones and Synexa in the UK We were introduced to Synexa by a sister firm in GMN International, our network of independent firms, in 2012. The organisation was looking to expand into the UK from its base in Cape Town. We spent time with the directors to ensure we completely understood their future ambitions for the business and talked through what would be the most appropriate structure for the UK entity. We also liaised with the advisers in South Africa in order to devise the most tax efficient structure for the global organisation.

Having proposed the ideal structure, we then project managed the formation of the UK entity as well as registering it with HMRC for tax and VAT, leaving the directors to focus on the task of actually setting up the operation.

Over and above managing the compliance requirements, we have worked on their UK tax strategy that has included discussions about the tax relief available as a result of their research and development work.

International and Brexit Planning

In addition to ensuring that the UK operations are compliant, we have been working on the future plans of the global organisation. We are delighted that we have been able to advise on their global structuring, such as the best legal entity and incorporation in Germany.

We are currently working on their Brexit planning which has included establishing the new international headquarters in Dublin. A decision that was welcomed by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald T.D. who said,

This is a great win for Ireland, bringing high quality jobs involving cutting-edge science and research for the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry and will help drive the development of new products by the industry. The presence of Synexa here will bring considerable weight to our growing cluster of companies in a niche area of the life sciences sector and build on our existing expertise.

Synexa’s new facility will include the creation of a Bioinformatics Lab, in which specialised data analysts and machine learning systems will interrogate the data generated in the company’s biomarker labs. Paul O’Riordan, CEO, believes,

That the richness of insight available about a drug’s performance and the ability to identify biomarker-based ‘signatures’ of response and non-response among patients will mean that bioinformatics analysis will become an essential tool for improving the efficiency of new drug development over the next decade.

Graeme Bursack, Head of the International Group said,

It has been thrilling to work with Synexa and watch them grow into a global leader in their specialist field. What has been important to their smooth expansion and success has been the clarity of their vision and the fact that they were enthusiastic about looking at their long term planning early on which has given them the best platform for their impressive/phenomenal growth.

Paul O’Riordan, CEO, said,

I greatly appreciate the support we’ve received from Graeme and his team at Goodman Jones, which helped to make our initial entry to the UK market very straightforward and has helped our expansion into other European markets. Because Synexa is still managed day-to-day by its founding entrepreneurs, we really value working with a mid-tier accounting firm, where we get access to the senior people and avoid the hierarchy that often comes with larger organisations. That said, Goodman Jones has the network needed to address the accounting, tax, HR and Brexit issues we face across Europe. Together, these features deliver the ideal combination of expertise and close relationship that I value in a professional advisory firm.