For NJII and NJIT, sale of BioCentriq for $73M is ultimate proof of concept

Price of deal, formally announced Monday, was what school had in mind when it created institute in 2014

For the New Jersey Innovation Institute, the sale of BioCentriq for $73 million to GC Corp. — formally announced Monday — was more than just proof that the company started at New Jersey Institute of Technology literally was worth millions. It was proof of concept for NJII itself.

So said NJIT President Joel Bloom and NJII CEO Simon Nynens.

“Thanks to the foresight of the NJIT board of trustees in supporting the creation of NJII, we were able to create an entity that has built upon NJIT’s strengths in life sciences and engineering to serve as a catalyst for entrepreneurship and industry partnership,” Bloom said.

The sale is the largest in NJII’s history.

Nynens said that helps make BioCentriq a perfect case study.

“This is a perfect example of what NJII was designed to do,” he said. “In this case, we were able to work with industry to identify an area of huge need and create an entity that delivers a solution.”

BioCentriq manufactures autologous and allogeneic cell therapies and gene therapies and specializes in viral vector production, cell and viral banking, and upstream and downstream processing.

The sale of BioCentriq to GC Corp. was first announced April 19. On Monday, the dollar amount was added.

It’s fair to say such a haul is what the school had in mind in 2014, when NJII was created to serve as a portal and platform for higher education/industry partnerships. NJII brings together the capabilities of NJIT, industry and government relationships, and proven methods to build industry-centric ecosystems that foster innovation and deliver solutions that make a direct impact on the economy and improve the quality of life.

BioCentriq was launched in 2019. NJII initially began exploring the sale of BioCentriq through a bid process that involved more than 50 companies, and the terms of the deal and its closing were approved recently by the NJII board of directors. The members of the NJII board include a broad range of industry, government and higher education leaders. The proceeds of the transaction will be held by NJII and redeployed to continue growing an innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem that supports the state of New Jersey and its regional economy.

GC, a South Korean company founded in 1967 with a major footprint across health care sectors, is eager for the next step, its president, Yong-Jun Huh, said.

“BioCentriq’s unique expertise in the rapidly growing cell and gene therapy (contract development and manufacturing organization) will be a transformative addition to our business that we believe will accelerate our growth, with additional expansion projects underway in New Jersey,” he said. “We are thrilled to team up with BioCentriq’s incredibly talented team.”

Moving forward, BioCentriq will operate in a mode similar to other GC companies, with each maintaining its individual culture and identity while sharing best practices. Dr. Haro Hartounian, senior vice president and general manager of BioCentriq, will become the CEO of BioCentriq upon the closing of the transaction. He will retain his position as affiliated faculty at NJIT.

Hartounian said he’s eager to see what the next chapter for the company will bring.

“I would like to thank NJIT and NJII for providing the opportunity to start BioCentriq and to build a successful contract development and manufacturing organization,” he said. “This transaction marks the start of an exciting new chapter for BioCentriq.

“This acquisition by GC will enhance BioCentriq’s ability to deliver superior service and expertise for cell and gene therapy companies. BioCentriq and GC’s combined expertise and synergy will enhance our ability to drive innovation in cell and gene therapy that delivers life-changing therapies for patients who so desperately need them.”