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BioLife to acquire SAVSU Technologies

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SAVSU CEO Dana Barnard, left, and President and Chief Technology Officer Bruce McCormick show SAVSU shipping containers at the company’s new facility. SAVSU is being acquired by BioLife Solutions. (Kevin Robinson-Avila/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Seattle-based BioLife Solutions plans to acquire full control of SAVSU Technologies, an Albuquerque startup that makes thermal shipping containers for frozen cells and genes.

The deal, announced Monday morning by BioLife Solutions, is expected to close in 45 days. BioLife, a public company that trades on the NASDAQ, already owns 44 percent of SAVSU stock and has an exclusive option to purchase all outstanding shares. BioLife will now acquire the 56 percent in remaining SAVSU stock it doesn’t currently own in exchange for 1.1 million shares of BioLife common stock.

SAVSU operations will remain in Albuquerque, where it designs, engineers and manufactures its thermal shipping containers at a 10,000-square-foot facility in the north I-25 industrial corridor near Jefferson and Osuna.

SAVSU, which launched in 2010, has partnered with BioLife since 2014 to help build a software system for its containers, which are used to deliver frozen cells and genes to customers around the world. The containers provide temperature controls and protection to safely deliver cyro-preserved and hypothermopreserved cells, tissues and organs, which must remain in the original state they were prepared for up to a week or more for shipping across the globe.

The containers include a built-in, online monitoring system that provides customers with real-time tracking information and conditional knowledge of container contents. That offers 24/7 monitoring of ambient and in-container temperatures, package location, whether the container has been opened and for how long, and the time remaining to safely delivery therapies to end users.

SAVSU leases its thermal containers to shipping companies and other customers, providing it with recurring monthly revenue.

BioLife, which offers cyro- and hypothermo preservation products and services for the cell and gene therapy industry, decided to exercise its stock-purchase option given the rapid customer growth achieved by SAVSU.

“Over the past year, the SAVSU team has made significant progress in engaging with leading cell and gene therapy companies and with specialty couriers,” said BioLife President and CEO Mike Rice in a statement. “…SAVSU’s many innovations in shipper form factor, dynamic performance, actionable data and reduction of in-transit payload damage are being recognized and highly valued by a prestigious group of cell and gene therapy developers.”

BioLife will provide details on the acquisition during an Aug. 8 earnings call with shareholders and investors, said BioLife Chief Financial Officer Roderick de Greef.

“We believe that owning SAVSU will allow BioLife to benefit from the high margin recurring revenue stream associated with the rental model for these products,” de Greef said.

SAVSU executives could not immediately be reached for comment. But in a message posted on the company website Monday morning, SAVSU CEO Dana Barnard said the firm’s 23-member Albuquerque team will remain in place.

“The entire SAVSU team is moving into this next phase together,” Barnard said.

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