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Price per share
€4.62
Equity offered
Invested so far
€285,654.60
Legal warning: The acquisition of this financial instrument is associated with considerable risks and may lead to the complete loss of the invested assets. The prospective return is not guaranteed and may also be lower.

On this pitch page, when referring to both Clinical Research Services Turku - CRST Oy and its subsidiary CRST Helsinki Oy together, the abbreviation "CRST" will be used. When referring to Clinical Research Services Turku - CRST Oy alone, its full name or the abbreviation "CRST Turku" will be used. When referring to CRST Helsinki Oy, its full name or the abbreviation "CRST Helsinki" will be used.

Antti Iitiä, CEO

“CRST’s specialists help pharma companies to develop new and improved medicines, daily. As medications and treatments are becoming more and more complex, there is an increasing need for new and innovative research services. By investing in these new services and other growth elements, CRST will be able to serve an increasing number of pharma customers. CRST is devoted to sustainable clinical development of novel medicines, and we invite all interested investors – small and large - to join this effort.”

Dr. Antti Iitiä, Ph.D., CEO

Key investment highlights

CRST already has an established service model, which can be further copied into new therapy areas and different locations to grow the business. 

CRST's operational models for small early-phase clinical trials and large multi-national later-phase trials form two separate legs for the business to grow. 

In order to grow the business, CRST's specialists are committed to helping pharma companies to increase the value of their investigational medicines or to save money by terminating non-viable projects early. 

While treatments and medications are becoming more complex, CRST can provide technology-based clinical research services to pharma companies both in the early and late phases of clinical drug development.  

By investing in CRST Turku, you can be part of the search for new improved medications for diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and stroke. New safe and efficacious medications are urgently needed for many illnesses, and as an investor, you will be able to contribute to their sustainable testing in an authorised high-quality environment.

Investment information

Days to invest:
27
Investing round ends:
27/12/2022
Type:
Equity offering
Invested so far:
€285,654.60
Equity offered:
4.98 – 9.48 %
Price per share :
€4.62
min investment 70 shares
Number of existing shares:
1,624,455
Fully diluted shares:
1,624,455
Pre-money valuation:
€7,500,000.00
Maximum issue size:
€785,400
Offered units:
170,000
Funding purpose:
Growth
Offered in:
FI
Broker:
Invesdor Oy

Overview

Short profile

CRST provides clinical drug development services to pharma companies. CRST's clients span from small virtual drug development companies to Big Pharma giants.  

CRST's services help customers to test their new drug candidates for safety (Phase I trials) and efficacy (Phase II and III trials). The study results are key for subsequent decision-making by the clients: investing in unviable drug candidates must be stopped as early as possible, whereas excellent value is added to projects that show promise in terms of safety and efficacy.  

CRST currently has two clinical research units in Finland, in Turku and Helsinki, employing 35 full-time people. The research unit in Helsinki is operated by CRST Turku's subsidiary, CRST Helsinki Oy. With this setup, more than half of the Finnish population can be targeted for participation in clinical trials operated by CRST. 

CRST has already performed more than 250 clinical trials. CRST’s studies cover many disease areas, but the largest single focus area has been neurology and brain disorders, i.e., illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Many studies have also been performed with drugs targeted to treat cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

After seven years of profitable growth and reaching a turnover of €3,1M (in 2020), planning of the next growth step was initiated. A goal was set to increase the sales from the €3,1M reached in 2020 to €10-15M in three to five years. 

Company Data

Company: Clinical Research Services Turku – CRST Oy 
Managing Director: Antti Iitiä 
Website: https://www.crst.fi/
Founding year: 2014
Industry: MedTech
Number of employees: 35 (including subsidary)
Social media: LInkedIn

Company history

company history

CRST Turku was founded as a research service unit of the University of Turku in 1995 and was spun out as a private company in 2014, with the University as a minority shareholder. As a result, management was brought closer to the actual operations, and business practices were established. The new company established a board of directors, including outside members, and started active marketing efforts. In addition, functions to cover quality requirements and financial follow-up were set up.  

Since 2014, CRST has grown from a research unit of 20 people and €1.2M income to a company with 35 employees and a turnover of €3.8M (in 2021). In 2022, the turnover is predicted to reach €4.6-4.8M. Today, CRST’s team consists of people with many types of expertise, including physicians with different specialities, study nurses, research psychologists, quality specialists, IT experts, and marketing and administrative personnel. In addition to these professionals, CRST also utilizes outside experts in its customer projects.  

In the spring of 2020, CRST opened a second research unit in Helsinki. At the same time, the world was facing the COVID-19 pandemic. By strict operational routines and by implementing additional safety measures, CRST managed to remain operational throughout the pandemic, contrary to several similar units in Europe.

Reaching the next level 

From its inception as a company, CRST has been aiming to grow profitably. After seven years of profitable growth and after reaching a turnover of €3,1M (in 2020), planning of the next growth step was initiated. A goal was set to increase the sales from the €3,1M reached in 2020 to €10-15M in three to five years.  

The strategy development project was executed in collaboration with an outside consultancy company, Arthur D. Little. It included customer interviews, analysis of the target market and competition, growth driver analysis and planning concrete actions for the next growth steps. The execution of the growth plan was activated at the beginning of 2022. 

The services

description

description

CRST, with its two clinics located in Turku and Helsinki, provides clinical trials services from first-in-man studies to late-phase trials. Customers span from small virtual biotech companies to Big Pharma giants. They all need a trusted partner to conduct their clinical studies to advance the development of their new products towards the market.  

CRST’s different customers have diverse needs: 

  • For small virtual companies, a full-service package may be provided, from study planning all the way to clinical conduct and to a final study report.  

  • For more established pharma companies, CRST is providing services for clinical study conduct in Turku and Helsinki. Some of the trials where CRST’s two sites are involved are large multi-national studies with tens or even hundreds of participating sites all over the world, involving thousands of participating patients. 

The company has substantial experience in testing both small molecules and biological drugs under development for treating disorders of the brain and the cardiovascular system and for metabolic diseases as well as gastroenterology. Several trials have also been conducted to test novel vaccines, health foods and medical devices. Highly dedicated research physicians and study nurses perform over 2200 study subject visits annually. 

CRST has strong expertise in trials involving medical imaging. It works in close collaboration with its partner Turku PET Centre, a world-class imaging service provider (see: www.turkupetcentre.fi), enabling the company to perform studies with special imaging techniques with different imaging modalities.  

CRST’s quality system is based on Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and has been constructed to fulfil all requirements of OECD’s Good Clinical Practice (GCP) guidelines and EU legislation. CRST is frequently undergoing audits by CRST’s customers and by medical authorities. 

How it works


 

Icon 1

First-in-man and other early-phase studies  

CRST’s early-phase clinical trials services include clinical pharmacology studies in healthy volunteers and patients. The service model provides agile and cost-efficient full-service study performance from scientific and regulatory consultation and study planning to clinical conduct, and further to study reporting and compilation of regulatory documents, based on the customer´s needs. The company has access to the emergency clinic of Turku University Hospital to perform dosing in a hospital setting, when needed. 

Icon 2

Later-phase clinical studies  

In later-phase clinical trials that are often large and multi-national, CRST can provide two professional study sites for efficient patient recruitment and conduct of the study visits.  

CRST’s facilities and in-house investigators enable following the safety and well-being of the study participants around the clock, as safety is the highest priority. The personnel are trained in Good Clinical Practice and work under a quality system based on standard operating procedures to ensure high quality. Experienced project managers ensure that projects are managed efficiently, and that communication with the customer is accurate and timely. 

Awards & recognitions

Minimum Scenario

Professor Mika Scheinin (co-founder of Clinical Research Services Turku - CRST Oy) was selected as The Clinical Researcher of the Year 2022 in Finland (Oct 27, 2022). Professionals in clinical drug research chose the Clinical Researcher, the Research Nurse and the CRA (Clinical Research Associate) of the year for the eighth time.   

Medium Scenario

Alzinova AB, a Swedish biopharma company developing treatments of Alzheimer’s disease by specifically targeting neurotoxic amyloid-beta oligomers. Alzinova´s Phase 1b clinical study with ALZ-101 in patients with early Alzheimer’s disease is being carried out in Finland by Clinical Research Services Turku (CRST). 

Maximum Scenario

A promising new drug was found for celiac disease. The study was conducted in seven European countries and a total of 20 research centers were involved, one of which was Clinical Research Services Turku - CRST Oy, with professor emeritus Mika Scheinin as the principal investigator.   

Other: 

Provention Bio Announces Positive Final Results from First-In-Human Study of Coxsackievirus B Vaccine Candidate PRV-101. Read more 

FDA granted accelerated approval for ADUHELM™ as the first and only Alzheimer’s disease treatment to address a defining pathology. Read more 

Avilex Pharma successfully completed its phase 1 clinical trial of AVLX-144 – A potentially game-changing treatment for an acute neurological condition. Read more 

The biopharmaceutical company Desentum Oy reports positive findings for the First-in-Human clinical study of lead product candidate in birch pollen allergic adults. Read more 

The business model

Concept

CRST’s specialists help pharma companies to increase the value of their investigational medicines or to save money by killing a project early. 

Meeting clients’ demands

For small virtual companies, a full-service package may be provided, from study planning all the way to clinical conduct and to a final study report.  

For more established pharma companies, CRST is providing services for clinical study conduct at its two sites, in Turku and Helsinki.  

  

Expertise

CRST’s personnel have a wide range of expertise covering marketing, medical specialities, GXP quality systems, study subject recruitment and corporate governance. Highly experienced staff and an established network of scientific experts ensure that the customer can receive everything he needs for his clinical studies from one place, making the contracting and conduct of the studies smooth and flexible. 

Strong partners

As a spin-off company from the University of Turku, CRST has an established network of collaboration with the scientific and business community in the Turku business region. The main partners include Turku PET Centre (a world-class medical imaging research centre and service provider), the University of Turku, Turku University Hospital, the regional business development company Turku Science Park Ltd., and many private service and health care providers such as 4Pharma Oy, Trinitas Oy, Docrates Oy and Aava Oy. 

  

Ethics and sustainability

Still today, in 2022, there are many diseases with no cure, and many therapies that are currently in clinical use have much room for improvement in terms of efficacy or safety or both. Therefore, there is a great need for new and improved medications. 

CRST’s mission is to participate in the quest for new and improved medications. With its expertise, pharmaceutical companies and healthcare providers can provide novel treatment opportunities for people with incurable illnesses or illnesses where only sub-optimal therapeutic modalities are now available. 

CRST is committed to the performance of clinical trials with pharmaceuticals in an ethically sustainable manner. The principles of the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Helsinki and the quality standards set in the Good Clinical Practice guidelines are strictly adhered to. 

With operations in Finland, CRST is in a favourable position to perform clinical trials sustainably. Finland has a well-functioning public health care system, and access to adequate health care is provided to all, regardless of employment status, income, or wealth. There is thus less risk for undue enticement for clinical trial participation caused by lack of health care access, compared to some other countries. 

The Nordic welfare state system and the absence of extreme poverty also reduce the risk that persons would be coaxed into participation in a risky trial by offering disproportionate financial rewards. In Finland, the review process of clinical trial applications by the Finnish Medicines Agency (Fimea) and the National Ethics Committee (Tukija) is very professional, meticulous and transparent, which also contributes to the ethical sustainability of clinical trials conducted in Finland. Consequently, the level of public trust in science in general and in the conduct of clinical trials is high.  

Team

  

first name last name, position of company name

Antti Iitiä

Chief Executive Officer

Antti Iitiä has over 30 years of experience in Life Science activities in academia and in the industry. He was founder and CEO of a technology start-up company, Innotrack Diagnostics Oy, today known as Radiometer Turku Ltd. Antti has also been founder and CEO of two specialist Life Science consultancy companies. He holds an M.Sc. in biochemistry and a Ph.D. in biotechnology. Since 2014, Antti has been leading CRST as its CEO. 

  

first name last name, position of company name

Reijo Kunelius

Chief Operating Officer

Reijo Kunelius has over 30 years of experience in the biotechnology and drug development industries. He has worked in product development and production management positions in several Life Science companies. He has also acted as a founder and board member in two companies in the field. At CRST Reijo has acted as Chief Operating Officer and Chairman of the Board since 2014. He has an M.Sc. degree in biochemistry. 

  

first name last name, position of company name

Mikko Kuoppamäki

Chief Scientific Officer

Mikko Kuoppamäki is a neurologist and Adjunct Professor of Neurology with a strong background especially in the management of Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders; he has published 50 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals. In pharmaceutical development, Mikko has 20 years of experience in CNS drug development at Orion Pharma and Lundbeck, including positions as Development Leader, Head of Medical Affairs, Head of CNS Drug Development, Principal/Senior Medical Advisor and Chief Neurologist. Mikko started working at CRST as Chief Scientific Officer in October 2022. Mikko received his M.D. and Ph.D. (in pharmacology) at the University of Turku. 

Board of Directors 

Reijo Kunelius (Chairman of the Board)  

Anne Marjamäki  

Kalervo Väänänen  

Mika Scheinin 

Rabbe Klemets  

Experts 

Aleksi Tornio, Associate Professor of Clinical Pharmacology, M.D., Ph.D., University of Turku and Turku University Hospital.

Anita Remitz, Adjunct Professor of Dermatology and Allergology, M.D., Ph.D., University of Helsinki. 

Juha Rinne, Professor of Neurology, Consultant, Clinical Investigator.

Juhani Knuuti, Professor of Cardiovascular Research and PET Imaging, Director of Turku PET Centre, M.D., Ph.D., University of Turku and Turku University Hospital.

Markku Koulu, Professor Emeritus of Drug Development , M.D., Ph. D., University of Turku. 

Mika Scheinin, Senior Scientific Advisor, Professor Emeritus of Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacology.

Pirjo Nuutila, Professor of Metabolism Research, Turku PET Centre, M.D., Ph.D., University of Turku and Turku University Hospital.

Ville ​Ranta-Panula, Chief Business Officer, M.Sc. degrees in drug development and business administration.

Company structure

  • Oy LS Link Ab is owned by Antti Iitiä and Reijo Kunelius.   

  • UTU Holding Oy is a limited company established 2013 by the University of Turku to manage the University's shares. 

  • CRST’s employee owners include Mika Scheinin, Ville Ranta-Panula, Zsófia Lovró and Juha Rinne.

Distribution of the company shares

Shareholder Shares Votes Ownership
amount % %
Oy Ls Link Ab 635 075 39 39
Utu Holding Oy 518 756 32 32
Ville Ranta-Panula 211 246 13 13
Mika Scheinin 211 246 13 13
Juha Rinne 32 088 2 2
Zsófia Lovró 16 044 1 1
In total 1 624 455 100 % 100 %

Use of funds

Funds collected in CRST’s financing round will be used to accelerate the company’s growth potential by setting up a Key Account Management system, adding marketing resources and expanding the capacity of CRST’s existing research sites. Also, new services in new disease areas will be added to the product portfolio. Different scenarios will be considered and evaluated depending on the financing round's outcome. Also, the establishment of a third research site may be considered. 

Minimum Scenario

Scenario 1

The minimum of €392,700 is collected:

In this scenario, efforts are aimed towards increasing sales and the number of customers.  

  • A key account management system is created. Approximately €150,000 will be used for this purpose. 

  • Part of the funding will be used to utilize outside sales resources. Approximately €150,000 will be used for this purpose. 

  • Also marketing efforts are enhanced. Approximately €92,700 will be used for this purpose. 

Medium Scenario

Scenario 2

€578,000 is collected:

In addition to the activities of Scenario 1, also services for new disease areas are developed together with new working methods.  

  • New service models are developed for studies in medicines to treat pain and skin diseases. Approximately €85,000 will be used for this purpose. 

  • New digital tools for easier and more flexible trial participation are also a key component in this scenario. These tools can also be utilized in studies on novel digital therapeutic modalities. Approximately €100,000 will be used for this purpose. 

Maximum Scenario

Scenario 3

€785,400 is collected  

  • In addition to the activities of Scenario 2, also planning of the set-up of a new research location will be initiated and taken as far as feasible and rational. €207,400 is estimated to be used for this activity. 

  • CRST has earlier experience from the set-up of its research site in Helsinki. This experience will be utilized to further expand the business. 

Market

market

The ongoing exponential growth of business in clinical trials can be attributed to the increasing number of drugs being developed, new therapeutic modalities, focus on personalized medicine, and emerging biopharma companies. As pharma and biopharma companies increasingly turn to outsourcing of their R&D efforts, the demand for clinical research services is increasing, but with growing pressures to lower costs and enhance productivity.  

The Global Clinical Trials Market size was estimated (source) at  
$29.7 billion in 2020,  
$32.27 billion in 2021,  
and is projected to grow at an annual rate of 9.1 % to reach $54.3 billion by 2027  
 
In Europe, the market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 8 % to reach a market size of €25 billion by 2025. (Source: Europe Contract Research Organization (CRO) Market to 2025, The Insight Partners; Arthur D. Little analysis)


Phase I/IIa segment 

In Phase I trials, new molecules are tested for the first time in humans, usually in healthy volunteers. The same sometimes applies to small-scale early patient trials (Phase IIa), where proof of target engagement and preliminary information about the effective dose range are sought. For such trials, CRST offers a full-service model. 

CRST has two major growth drivers in this segment: the growing number of early-stage biotech/drug development companies in the Nordic countries and recent successful projects for its clients. The company believes these factors and strengthened resources will lead to growth in the Phase I/IIa segment in the Nordic region and globally. CRST has already seen growing interest in its services. As a result, the company expects this segment to grow significantly from 2024 onwards. 

Recent public references in this business segment include the Danish company Avilex Pharma ApS (first-in-man trial with a small molecule targeted to stroke), the Finnish company Desentum Oy (first-in-man trial with an immunotherapy agent targeted to birch pollen allergy) and Provention Bio Inc. (a US-based biotech company who conducted their first-in-man trial with a potentially ground-breaking diabetes prevention vaccine in Finland, with CRST).  

Phase II-IV segment 

In large international Phase II-IV trials, new treatments are tested for efficacy in a targeted patient population. CRST provides two professional clinical trial sites (one in Helsinki and one in Turku), covering more than half of the Finnish population. In addition, the company provides Finnish patients early access to potentially ground-breaking therapies and the possibility of being involved in this crucial drug development path.  

Among the disease areas, CRST is best known for its experience in brain disorders (such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease). Still, the company has lately expanded into other therapy areas, including cardiovascular medicine, metabolic disorders, dermatology, gastroenterology, and vaccines. The recent positive news in Alzheimer’s drug development is expected to generate further growth in the central nervous system (CNS) therapy area, which already constitutes 15-20 % of the global drug development pipeline. This, and further expansion in other therapy areas, will be key growth drivers for CRST. 

(Source: CRO Service Market, Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2019-2026, Allied Market Research; Arthur D. Little analysis)

Client base

CRST has had customers from 17 countries. Currently, the most active geographies are the Nordic countries, Switzerland, and the US.  

The existing client base spans from virtual biotech companies to Big Pharma; many are working with CRST regularly, coming back with new projects. CRST is also actively collaborating with many medium-sized and big clinical research organizations who are continuously looking for skilled professional research sites for their large, later-phase clinical trials in patients.  

After opening of CRST’s second unit in Helsinki, CRST has been able to win bigger projects in both business segments because of being able to offer two separate testing sites. One recent example is a Phase Ib trial with Alzinova AB, a Swedish biotech company, where a new vaccine candidate for Alzheimer’s disease is tested in patients at CRST’s sites in Helsinki and Turku. 

Company´s market position  

CRST has a strong market position in the Nordics. In its Phase I full-service model, CRST has only one private competitor. In addition, 3 or 4 small academic units are providing partly similar services. CRST has some dozens of competitors in Europe but has clear potential for steady growth. 

Many US-based pharma companies are conducting their early-stage clinical trials in Europe because of better cost-efficiency and ease of the regulatory process. This increases the business opportunities of European service providers, even if there are many similar providers in the US.  

For Phase II-IV trials, CRST is offering a business model that competes with research sites in other countries. The company sees that its long history, record of accomplishments and added capacity in Helsinki will help it to further expand its business. The company has successfully expanded its trials outside of the central nervous system (CNS) and will continue to expand its therapy area coverage in the future.  

The company's biggest challenge in this segment is to get Finland involved in trials. Locally, CRST competes with Finnish hospitals and private clinics, against which it has a competitive advantage in terms of full-time staff for clinical research and patient recruitment, ensuring high-quality data. The company's clients confirmed this in a survey conducted by Arthur D Little. 

Financial figures & Growth

Issuer key figures (actual and forecast)

All figures are rounded to the nearest thousand and presented in thousands of euros.

ACTUAL FORECAST
2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025
Revenue 2.369 2.843 2.882 3.654 4.792 6.050 7.854 10.982
Total output 2.302 2.860 3.056 3.733 4.619 6.150 7.983 11.162
Inventory change -67  16  172  79 -173 100 129 180
Capitalised expenses - 1 2 - - - - -
Costs of materials + external services [COGS] -625 -864 -726 -1.322 -1.552 -1.652 -2.145 -3.000
Gross profit 1.677  1.996  2.330  2.411  3.067  4.497  5.837  8.162
Personnel expenses/staff costs -981 -1.149 -1.467 -2.155 -2.387 -2.676 -3.475 -4.859
Other operating expenses 1 -351 -410 -643 -937 -785 -1.039 -1.349 -1.887
Financial subsidies related to COVID-19 - - 70 30 - - - -
EBITDA  345  437  290 -651 -105  780  1.012  1.415
Depreciation -11 -16 -48 -26 -40 -40 -50 -60
Operating result [EBIT]  334  421  242 -677 -145  740  962  1.355
Interest income/interest result -3 -4  -14 -14 -14 - - -
Taxes -66  -88 -66 - - -148 -192 -271
Net income after taxes (NIAT)  265  329  162 -691 -159  592  770  1.084

ACTUAL FORECAST
2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025
Revenue Growth - 20,01% 1,37% 26,79% 31,14% 26,25% 29,83% 29,83%
EBITDA % 14,56% 15,37% 10,06% -17,82% -2,19% 12,91% 12,90% 12,89%
Number of employees 18 23 29 30 32 36 46 65

Further explanations regarding the financial figures

The financial figures for 2018 to 2021 in the table above are based on audited figures by PricewaterhouseCoopers Oy and displayed rounded to thousand euros. The consolidation of the financial figures for CRST and CRST Helsinki has been performed by CRST. The financial figures for 2022 are based on the actual figures for January to October while the figures for November and December are estimates based on the past performance.  

The financial year 2018 is based on CRST Turku while the financial years from 2019 onwards are consolidated figures for CRST Turku and CRST Helsinki. CRST Helsinki is a fully owned subsidiary of CRST Turku. The consolidation of the financial figures has been done by CRST as CRST does not fulfil the requirements of consolidated auditing. 

CRST’s revenue grew by an average of 19,83% between 2018 and 2022 with 2020 showing growth of 1,37% due to the COVID-19 pandemic. CRST made a strategic decision to hire more personnel rather than let personnel go during the COVID-19 pandemic as this gives room to grow after the pandemic eases. This resulted in increased personnel expenses for both 2020 and 2021, which had a short-term negative impact on profitability. During 2021 and 2022 CRST  hired strategic personnel which increased the personnel-cost-to-revenue ratio on a short-term basis. CRST received COVID-19 related financial subsidiaries of €70,000 in 2020 and of €30,000 in 2021 respectively. 

CRST was substantially profitable from the spin off in the spring of 2014 until the end of 2020. CRST’s revenue grew at an average annual rate of 24,4% between 2014 and 2020 with an average yearly EBIT margin of 8,87%. In 2020 CRST had EBITDA of 290,000 and NIAT of €162,000. In 2021 CRST had a negative EBITDA of €-651, 000 and NIAT of €-691,000. This loss was driven by an increased workload due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in increased use of rental personnel, in parallel with hiring more strategic personnel due to the building of the new strategy during late 2020 and early 2021. The goal of the new strategy plan was set around increasing the revenue to €10-15M within the next 3 to 5 years. In addition to the personnel costs, the consultation costs for building of the new strategy amounted to around 250,000 euro, included in the “Other operating expenses 1” for the year 2021.

Execution of the new strategy started in January 2022. CRST expects to have an EBITDA of €-105,000 and a NIAT of €-159,000 for the full financial year of 2022. This assumption is based on the actual figures for January to October and the forecasts for November and December.  

CRST decided to lower the value of its inventory by €173,000 during the financial year 2022 due to progress in one of its larger projects. This has a negative impact on the financial result for the year 2022 and can be found under “Inventory change”. CRST made the strategic decision to hire a new CSO (Chief Scientific Officer) and a new geriatrician during 2022 which will position CRST for future growth. These new hirings have a short-term negative impact on the financial result for 2022 and can be found in “Personnel expenses”. 

Forecast

The financial forecasts have been made by the management of CRST and are based on the strategic analysis performed by external advisors. CRST aims to reach revenues of €10-15M within the next 3 to 5 years. The basic assumptions have been made upon pre-Covid-19 figures together with the new strategic growth approach. The management of CRST expects consolidated revenues to increase to €6M in 2023 and further to €7.8M and €10.9M in 2024 and 2025, respectively. These figures are equal to an average increase in revenue of 31,97% p.a over the next three years with revenue growth of 26,25% expected for 2023, which is the average revenue growth during the past four financial years. The revenue growth is expected to gain momentum during the financial years 2024 and 2025 as the company can utilize its new strategy with expected annual revenue growth of 29,83%. These figures can be found in the table above under “Revenue Growth %”.  

The management expects the inventory to grow during 2023 as new projects are started and to grow further during 2024 and 2025 in proportion to the expected revenue growth. These figures can be found under “Inventory change” in the table above. The management expects to have no capitalised expenses due to the nature of the business. 

The costs predicted for the financial years 2023 to 2025 are based on pre-covid-19 costs as well as on the new strategy. The management expects COGS to revert to the mean of around 27% p.a of revenue while personnel costs are expected to average to 44% of revenue after strategic personnel has been hired over the past three years. This is equal to an average annual cost of €75,000 per employee. The management expects to hire more personnel over the years 2023 to 2025 with a headcount of 36 for 2023, up 4 employees from the previous year, and 46 in 2024 as well as 65 in 2025. Other expenses are expected to revert to the mean of around 17% of revenue with OpEx of €1M, €1,35M and €1,89M in 2023, 2024 and 2025, respectively. These figures can be found under “Other operating expenses 1” in the table above. Other operating expenses include rents of the Turku and Helsinki facilities but also other fixed costs such as outsourced accounting costs, internal financial administration and other occasional administrative services.   

The management expects CRST to again turn profitable in 2023 with an EBITDA of €780,000 and a NIAT of €592,000. The EBITDA margin is expected to remain stable at around 12,9% over the financial years 2023 to 2025 as the new strategy is utilized with EBITDA of €1M and €1,4M in 2024 and 2025, respectively. This EBITDA margin is in line with the long-term average for CRST. Net income after taxes is expected to reach €770,000 in 2024 and €1M in 2025. 

Loans outstanding

All figures are rounded to the nearest thousand and presented in thousands of euros.

Capital Interest Total payable
Cash reserves 04.11.2022 369.083,42 € 0,00 € 0,00 €
Account limit 300.000,00 €
Total loans outstanding 01.11.2022 213.125,00 € 3.730,00 € 216.855,00 €
Of wich repayable within 12 months 113.125,00 € 1.979,69 € 115.104,69 €
Of wich repayable within 24 months 100.000,00 € 1.750,00 € 101.750,00 €
Of wich repayable within 36 months 0,00 € 0,00 € 0,00 €
Of wich repayable within 48 months 0,00 € 0,00 € 0,00 €
Of wich repayable within 60 months 0,00 € 0,00 € 0,00 €

CRST Turku has outstanding loans of €13,000 to Nordea Bank, which will be repaid in total during the financial year 2023. Additionally, CRST Helsinki Oy, a wholly owned subsidiary of CRST Turku, has outstanding loans of €200,000 to Nordea Bank as of November 1st, 2022. The loan has interest protection and will be repaid in full in 2024.  

The total loan amount for CRST Turku and its subsidiary, CRST Helsinki, amounts to €216,855, out of which €213,125 is capital, and €3,730 is interest payable. According to the financial plan, CRST will pay €115,104.69 within the next 12 months and €101,750 within 24 months to service the loans. These figures are in the table above under “Total loans outstanding”.  

Additionally, CRST has an optional €300,000 line of credit arrangement for the short-term need for cash. However, CRST has not used the line of credit to date.   

CRST has a cash balance of €369,083.42 as of November 4th, 2022. 

Valuation

The valuation of €7,500,000 is based on a strategic analysis commissioned by CRST according to which the indicative valuation of CRST was 2.7x – 2.9x revenue in 2021 and has been modified based on recent developments in financial markets. The current valuation of €7.5M is equal to 2.05x revenue based on 2021 figures and 1.57x revenue based on 2022 figures while the market average over the last 10 years has been 2.9x revenue and the median 2.8x revenue respectively. 

Example deals in CRST's industry include Ratos 40% acquisition of TFS at a 2.3x revenue multiple and the merger between Orion and Simbec which was conducted at an EBITDA multiple of 16 and sales multiple of 1. CRST offers a forward valuation multiple of 1.24x revenue and 9.61x EBITDA for 2023 and 0.95x revenue and 7.40x EBITDA for 2024. The forward multiples for 2025 are 0.68x revenue and 5.30x EBITDA respectively based on the financial projections for 2023-2025.

Exit Scenarios

Exit Scenarios

Three main exit scenarios are foreseen for new minority shareholders in the company. 

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Another CRO company acquires CRST 

The contract research market is vibrant and active, and there are recent examples of M&As. Following a ‘buy and build’ growth strategy, another CRO company aimed at becoming a global market leader may want to acquire CRST to expand its service offerings. The combined group can offer clients a broader range of services, deeper scientific expertise, a wider set of analytical platforms, greater capacity, and an expanded geographical footprint.  

Some recent company acquisitions and mergers:  
https://sdslifescience.com/news-press/news-press-swedish/#/

https://synexagroup.com/news-articles/synexa-life-sciences-acquires-finnish-cro-syrinx-bioanalytics-to-expand-bioanalysis-capabilities/

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Private equity investor / venture capital 

The contract research market in drug development is not yet mature and offers opportunities for consolidation and company arrangements to private equity investors and venture capital companies shaping the market. It is possible to sell CRST or parts of it to a private equity investor who will provide financing, expertise, and networks to the company. Typically, the investor's holding period in the target company varies between 3 and 7 years. In the end, the company is sold to a more significant buyer, another private equity investor, or listed on a stock exchange according to an agreed plan. 

See e.g., https://www.ratos.com/en/news/ratos-acquires-tfs/   

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Pharma supply chain reshaping 

The drug development process and routine supply chains are complex and consist of companies specializing in certain parts of the chains. Even big pharma companies do not entirely cover the whole R&D or supply chains. During the COVID-19 pandemic, an issue about supply chain resilience has been brought up. New types of business models, together with increased M&A activity, are expected to reshape the pharma supply chain.   

See: https://www.outsourcing-pharma.com/Article/2022/05/05/survey-industry-leaders-looking-to-shore-up-pharma-supply-chain 

Issue Terms

In this funding round a minimum of 85 000 (EUR 392 700) and a maximum of 170 000 (EUR 785 400) new shares of Clinical Research Services Turku - CRST Oy (2605215-9) are offered for subscription. 

If less than 85 000 shares are subscribed, the company has the right to cancel the issue, in which case paid investments will be refunded to the investors. No interest is paid to the refunded subscriptions. 

The Board of Directors reserves the right to raise the maximum amount of the funding round. 

The shares entitle their holder to dividend and other shareholders’ rights from the moment the shares have been registered to the trade register and have been added to the shareholder list. 

The subscription price per share is EUR 4,62. The minimum subscription is 70 shares corresponding to EUR 323,40.  

The subscription price for the new shares must be paid in full to the customer deposit account appointed by Invesdor in accordance with the instructions given by Invesdor, or in case of external investments to the bank account appointed by the Board of Directors of the company. 

The subscription period starts on 16.11.2022and ends preliminary on 27.12.2022. The subscription period on Invesdor’s platform starts on 16.11.2022 and ends preliminary on 27.12.2022.  

The Board of Directors reserves the right to extend the subscription period. 

In case of oversubscription of this share offering, the Board of Directors may decide to suspend the issue. In case of an oversubscription the shares shall be allocated in the order of subscription (“first come, first served”). 

The capital gathered in this share issue will be recorded entirely to the reserve for invested unrestricted equity. 

The shares will be subscribed by making a subscription commitment on Invesdor’s online platform and by approving Invesdor’s applicable terms and conditions, and adhering to company’s Minority Shareholders’ Agreement, or otherwise as indicated by the company’s Board of Directors. Subscribing via Invesdor’s online platform requires the investor to agree to the terms of use of the platform and the terms and conditions of the funding round and to provide Invesdor with the requested identification data.  

The company's Board of Directors decides on the acceptance of subscriptions after the subscription period has ended. Subscriptions may be accepted in whole or in part or rejected. 

The company has 1 624 455 registered shares. The company has one (1) series of shares, and thus all of the shares carry equal rights. 

Transferability of the company’s shares is restricted as follows: 

  • The transferee must adhere to a company’s Shareholders’ Agreement 

  • Redemption clause in the Articles of Association 

The company has no outstanding options, convertible bonds or other agreements that could lead to a situation where the shareholders' holdings would be diluted. 

When investing, the investor must adhere to the company's Minority Shareholders’ Agreement (dated 9.11.2022), which is attached to the end of this pitch page, unless the investor is already a party to the company’s Shareholder’s Agreement. Adhering to the Minority Shareholders’ Agreement is a mandatory part of the investment process. In the Minority Shareholders’ Agreement, the investor: 

  • Undertakes not to require any certificates for the shares 

  • Undertakes not to sell, transfer or otherwise dispose the shares to any party who has not adhered to the Agreement as a minority shareholder and is aware of the redemption rights clause in the Articles of Association of the company 

  • Undertakes not to pledge or otherwise lodge the shares or any rights related to the shares as security without prior written consent of the company 

  • Undertakes to vote and act and issue any necessary shareholder consents in accordance with the instructions received from the Board of Directors of the company, in connection with the company’s future financing rounds and other decision making in general meetings of shareholders, as long as all existing shareholders are treated fairly and  equally 

In addition, the shareholders 

  • Have a Drag Along and Tag Along right 

  • Undertakes to, in connection with an Exit, take all necessary and requested actions and support all decisions necessary to consummate the Exit 

Please familiarize yourself with the attached Minority Shareholders’ Agreement carefully before investing! 

The company’s current shareholders have a separate Shareholders’ Agreement in place. Even though the investors investing in this offering do not join this agreement, some provisions may be of interest to them (terms written with capital letter having the meaning set forth in the Shareholders’ Agreement): 

  • The Shares may not be pledged or encumbered, nor may rights attached to the shares otherwise be transferred, without the consent of all Shareholders 

  • Oy LS Link Ab shall be entitled to elect at least three (3) and Utu Holding Ltd at least two (2) members of the Board of Directors, and the Individual Shareholders shall be entitled to elect jointly at least one (1) member 

  • In the event of a transfer of shares by a shareholder to a third party as permitted by the terms of the agreement, those shareholders who do not exercise their tag along right shall be entitled to redeem the shares in question in accordance with the redemption clause in the articles of association 

  • Tag along right as defined in the agreement 

  • The agreement states that if the entire business of the company is sold, the company must be wound up and the assets distributed to the Shareholders in accordance with the agreement. However, prior to the start of the financing round, the Company has entered into an addendum to the agreement in which all parties to the agreement agree and acknowledge that the investors participating in this particular financing round also have an equal right to the distribution of the assets in such event. 

The Articles of Association of the company include a redemption clause which affects to the transferability of the shares. The Articles of Association can be found attached to this pitch page.  

Risks

Various risk factors associated with investing in the company may be significant if realised. Many of the company's risk factors are part of the nature of its business and are typical for the industry. Each risk may have an essential effect on the company's business, profits, and the potential ability to achieve its financial objectives. The risks presented are not ranked in order of importance, and the order in which they are presented does not reflect the likelihood of their occurrence.    


Risks related to the share issue and the company's shares  

  • Various risk factors and circumstances can lead to a fall in the market price of a share, and therefore there is a risk of losing some or all the capital invested.    

  • There may be no return at all on the investment.    

  • The company's shares are not publicly or multilaterally traded on any marketplace; therefore, there is no active or liquid secondary market for the shares. The risk, in this case, is that the security may not be sold at the desired time or at all or that the price offered may be lower than its subscription price or actual value.    

  • The transferability of the shares is limited by a redemption clause in the Articles of Association and by the obligation to enter into a shareholders' agreement with the company.    


Macroeconomic risks    

  • Uncertainty in the company's core markets, global economy, and financial markets may adversely affect the company's business and operating results.   

  • Part of the company's customers are pharmaceutical companies that are financed by venture capital markets. Rapid changes in venture capital markets can affect the company’s business   

  
  

Risks related to the company's business    

  • Failure in marketing may adversely affect the company's customer relationships and service demand.     

  • The company may be unable to implement its expansion strategy and take full or timely advantage of new business opportunities.     

  • The company may raise less capital than planned. This may result in the company not being able to successfully implement its business activities due to a lack of funds.    

  • If the company's business idea does not assert itself on the market or if the planned business development cannot be implemented as hoped, there is a risk of the company becoming insolvent.    

  • If the company is unable to compete effectively with existing and potential new competitors or to respond to changes in the competitive environment, it may adversely affect its turnover, profitability, and customer loyalty. Competition may become significantly more intense if competitors with more capital enter the market.    

  • There is a risk that the company will get negative media attention. This may lead to significant sales decline and losses for the company because there is insufficient demand for the company's services because of the negative media attention.    

  • Various other factors, in particular changes in the economic situation combined with planning errors, environmental risks, dependence on key personnel and changes in the legal and fiscal framework, can adversely affect the business.    

  • The demand for the company's services and, thus, its business performance is affected by, among other things, the general global market situation, the competitive position, and technological developments. Therefore, the company and its business are exposed to market risks independent of the company's actions.    

  • Part of the company's customer projects are long-lasting. It is possible that the cost of a customer project is increased during its performance and that all increased costs cannot be transferred to customer prices.  

  • Changes in health care requirements and legislation may change and limit the company’s possibilities to carry out customer projects. 

  

Risks related to management and staff   

  • The company is dependent on its management and qualified personnel, and the loss of such personnel could be detrimental to the business.     

  • Failure to recruit and retain qualified personnel may adversely affect the company's business performance.     

  • Increasing the number of staff may harm the company's profitability.     

  
  

 Legal and regulatory risks     

  • Failure to comply with laws, regulations and general social responsibility relating to the company's activities and products may result in sanctions and damage the company's image with its customer groups.     

  • The company has no pending lawsuits or other open litigation, but as the company's operations expand, legal risks become more significant.    

  • The company may be subject to claims or lawsuits that could harm the company and require management resources.    

  • The company's legal regulatory environment may change, potentially making it more difficult for the company to conduct its business.    

Financial risks     

  • Fluctuations in foreign exchange rates may harm the company's operations.     

  • The company is exposed to changes in interest rates on loans.     

  • The company is exposed to credit and counterparty risks.     

  • The company's financial projections are subject to risks, as forward-looking estimates, targets, and other statements always involve uncertainty, and they are only predictions, not guarantees of the future.    

    

The risks listed above are not the only risk factors affecting the operations of the company. Also, other risks and uncertainty factors that the company currently does not identify or considers presently irrelevant may have an integral effect on the business operations, business results, and financial standing of the company.  

Updates

Update 24.11.2022

Clinical Research Services Turku - CRST Oy and RNatives start a collaboration aiming for a First-in-human trial of a new potential RNA therapy in patients with PAD. Clinical Research Services Turku - CRST Oy and RNatives Oy have started a collaboration that aims to bring miR-466 into a First-in-human trial in patients with peripheral artery disease. RNatives is a platform company utilizing the novel biology of nuclear microRNAs to modulate gene expression of desired target genes.