Venn signs deal with Open Orphan to focus on rare diseases

Company has issued €1.1m in loan notes to fund specialisation in orphan diseases

Clinical trials group Venn Life Sciences has signed a strategic collaboration with Open Orphan DAC as it seeks to increase its focus on rare diseases and assume a market-leading position.

The firm also said it had issued £1 million (€1.1 million) in privately-held loan notes to fund its specialisation in orphan diseases, with a group of private individuals subscribing for a two-year loan note at a 10 per cent coupon.

“The principals of Open Orphan DAC have significant experience of clinical research and regulatory consulting for companies developing products under the auspices of the various Orphan Drug frameworks in the US and EU,” Venn said. in a statement.

Board changes

The agreement will see the companies share resources and conduct joint marketing to shore up their commercial position.


The new financing will also see a number of changes to the board, with Open Orphan's Cathal Friel joining Venn as chairman, along with Prof Brendan Buckley as non-executive director. The current Venn chairman, Allan Wood, will retire, along with director Mary Sheahan.

Mr Friel founded Raglan Capital, co-founded Amryt Pharma and serves as a director of Open Orphan, which he also co-founded. Prof Buckley was Icon's chief medical officer until 2017, and also co-founded Firecrest Clinical and Open Orphan DAC.

"The development of areas of specialisation is critical if we are to position Venn as a higher value business relative to our peers. We envisage the development of a number of areas of specialisation and orphan and rare technologies represent a logical starting point for us," said Tony Richardson, Venn's chief executive. "I welcome Cathal and Brendan to the team and look forward to working together to develop a commercial business in this well-defined market segment."

Venn has established full-service clinical research programmes and activities in 27 different countries. The company provides clinical research services for pharma, biotech, medical device and academic organisations. With offices in the Republic, Northern Ireland, Britain, France Germany and the Netherlands, it has more than 200 employees and contractors.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist