Tim Gillis

Tim Gillis

STI Technologies, the Halifax company that helps drug companies distribute samples, is reportedly close to announcing a $200 million exit.

Citing a report in Allnovascotia.com, the Chronicle-Herald said late Friday that the company has reached a deal with an unnamed purchaser to sell out for about $200 million. Representatives of the company did not respond to an email over the weekend.

Assuming the report is correct, the STI sale would likely be the largest exit of an Atlantic Canadian startup since Ocean Nutrition Canada of Dartmouth sold out to the Dutch conglomerate Royal DSM for $540 million in 2012.

STI Technologies started out in 2002 to solve a problem for the pharmaceutical industry by simplifying the way pharma companies distribute samples of new products. Rather than shipping out small samples to doctors and have them hand them out to patients, the STI platform allows drug companies to send physicians smart cards they can hand out to patients, who take them to a pharmacy along with a prescription to receive the drug.

As well as cutting costs and improving safety, the STI platform allows for an orderly record of how the sample was distributed. The pharma companies that use the product include such global giants as Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.

The company established itself among the top tier of startups in the region in 2013 when then-CEO Steve Nicolle landed $17 million in private equity investment from Imperial Capital of Toronto. Part of that investment bought out early investors, including GrowthWorks Atlantic, which bagged $6 million in the deal.

A few months before the Imperial funding, STI launched a new initiative called InnoviCares, which has been the fastest-growing part of the business. At the outset, it allowed patients to stay with a brand name drug at a lower price when the drug’s patent expires, and receive savings on other health care products.

Nicolle soon retired from the company and was replaced as CEO by Tim Gillis. During his tenure, the company made the Deloitte 2015 Tech Fast 50, the list of the top-growing technology companies in the country. STI took 41st place with revenue growth of 204 percent over four years. Deloitte also named STI to its North American Fast 50 list in 2015, assigning it the 319th spot.

The company now has about 100 employees, up from 57 at the end of 2014.

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