The nearly $70 million deal showcases the power of Central Florida’s economic development ecosystem

 Winter Springs – Netherlands-based Kiadis Pharma has agreed to purchase Winter Springs-based biotech company CytoSen in a stock transaction that could reach nearly $70 million at the current stock price, which could mean new treatment options for cancer patients.

The sale is the largest biotechnology company purchase in Central Florida’s history. The only other company to come close was VaxDesign, which sold in 2015 for $60 million.

“This is exactly why the region has invested in biosciences,” says Robert Igarashi, co-founder of CytoSen. “It is so companies like ours could blossom.”

The terms of the sale include upfront consideration of 1.94 million shares of Kiadis stock. Once the company accomplishes six clinical development and regulatory milestones, CytoSen’s owners will receive another 5.82 million shares. As of June 5, Kiadis’ shares were trading at 7.80 Euros, or $8.81.

The deal showcases the power of Central Florida’s economic development ecosystem, powered by years of dedicated partnerships led by the University of Central Florida.

For Kiadis, the acquisition is an opportunity to bring two different types of cell-based immunotherapies together under one company.  The result could potentially help cancer patients around the world.

“I am excited about this unique opportunity to bring NK cells and T cells together to benefit patients with devastating diseases”, added Robert Friesen, Chief Scientific Officer for Kiadis.

CytoSen’s journey began in 2016 when Dr. Alicja Copik, a researcher at UCF’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, developed a nanoparticle, which stimulates natural cancer-killing cells, increasing their ability to fight cancers.

When it came time to build a company to commercialize the technology for greater patient benefit, Copik, Igarashi and other co-founders formed CytoSen. CytoSen licensed the technology from UCF and entered the UCF incubation program.

“The UCF Business Incubator Program has been a very good vehicle to foster this company to its present form,” Igarashi says. “This was an early stage operation at the beginning and they significantly helped us reach this major milestone.”

The company started at the Research Park Incubator and for the past two years was headquartered at the Winter Springs Incubator.

“This is an outstanding success story for the UCF Business Incubation Program,” says Carol Ann Dykes Logue of the UCF Research Park Innovation District. “While certainly, this is an atypical accomplishment, this proves anything can be possible with a great product or service accompanied by a great business.”

The company plans to continue to operate out of the Winter Springs Incubator, providing economic impact to the east Seminole County community.

“Our programs are uniquely designed to help grow companies, allowing them to work together and prosper while continuing to grow the cities that partner with UCF on this program,” says Jerry Ross, president, National Entrepreneur Center. “CytoSen’s success should help other companies in the biotechnology field in our program see the potential future and help them grow as well.”

About the UCF Business Incubation Program: The University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program is a community resource that provides early-stage companies with the tools, training and infrastructure to become financially stable, high growth/impact enterprises. Since 1999, this award-winning program has helped over 390 local startup companies reach their potential faster by providing vital business development resources.

With seven facilities throughout the region, the UCF Business Incubation Program is an economic development partnership between the University of Central Florida, the Corridor, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia counties, and the cities of Apopka, Kissimmee, Orlando and Winter Springs. For the 2016/17 and 2017 /18 fiscal years, the activities of these participating firms have helped sustain more than 6,275 local jobs and have had a cumulative impact of more than $888 million on regional GDP and more than $1.59 billion on regional sales. During the same period, the program has returned $12.03 for every $1 invested in the program. For more information, visit