Lyceum Capital, the UK-based private equity firm that recent acquired Synexus Clinical Research for £18 million (€24.2 million), is eying further acquisitions in the clinical research arena, whether through Synexus or on its own initiative.

Focused on small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK’s pharmaceutical and healthcare service sectors, Lyceum has raised £255 million of equity capital for investment over the next few years. Investors in the new fund include F&C Group, AXA Private Equity, AlpInvest and European Investment Fund.

In December Lyceum completed its buyout of Synexus, the Lancashire, UK-based company that pioneered the ‘hub site’ model for recruiting patients into late-stage clinical trials. Other investments have included the UK’s leading home healthcare services group, Clinovia (sold to BUPA in 2006), and Southern Cross Healthcare, the UK market leader in elderly care.

“Smaller and mid-sized companies form the bedrock of the economy,” commented Lyceum chief executive Philip Buscombe. “This new fund and the substantial capital available from our relationship banks will mean that Lyceum can continue to acquire and support leading companies involved in pharmaceutical and healthcare services.”

That includes companies in the patient recruitment and wider clinical research space. Acquisition targets in the first category would be pursued through Synexus, and Lyceum is “looking actively” at opportunities in this area, managing partner Jeremy Hand told PharmaTimes.

The firm is also “absolutely” interested in other segments of the clinical research sector, Hand said, describing it as a “very attractive end-market”. Pharmaceutical companies are “looking for better and better service and lower and lower cost”, he noted.

At Synexus, new systems are being installed and staffing beefed up as Lyceum works hard to position the company for future growth, whether organic or through acquisition. Hands sees with potential for expansion both geographically and in the therapy areas Synexus serves.