Acquisitions / Biotechnology / Business development / Education

M&A Moves: 2U acquired edX for $800M from Harvard, MIT

Plus, Ellucian gets acquired by the Blackstone Group and Charles River Laboratories International acquires Rockville biotech company Vigene Biosciences.

A pair of big edtech names in higher education are coming together. Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

M&A Moves is a column where we highlight D.C.-area companies completing mergers and making acquisitions to scale their businesses. Have a submission? Email us at and tell us why it belongs in the roundup.

Lanham, Maryland-based 2U will be acquiring fellow edtech firm edX for $800 million, the company announced Tuesday.

2U will be acquiring the assets of edX, which is run by a nonprofit owned by Harvard and MIT, including its website, brand and marketplace. Together, the companies will have a combined 3,500 digital programs on an online marketplace available to its userbase of over 50 million student learners. They will have over 230 education institutions as partners in the network. Following the acquisition, 2U will operate edX as a public benefit entity and maintain its current leadership.

edX was founded in 2012 by leaders of the Cambridge, Massachusetts universities, and created an online platform for university courses. With the acquisition, 2U said it is committed to maintaining edX’s free track to audit courses, protecting the intellectual property rights of faculty and universities that contribute to courses, continuing standing agreements with colleges and universities, ensuring the privacy of learners and continuing the development of the open source, independent platform Open edX.

“2U and edX were founded on a shared vision that online education has the power to expand access, create opportunity, and transform lives.” said 2U cofounder and CEO Christopher Paucek in a statement. “By combining 2U and edX’s global reach and offerings from free to degree, together we believe we can fully realize our shared vision, meet the growing worldwide demand for online education, and deliver growth and long-term value to shareholders and other stakeholders.”

2U expects to reach near $1 billion in annual revenue by the end of the year. In 2019, the company made another big acquisition of Trilogy Education for $750 million.

“As edX looks to its next phase of growth and impact, joining forces with 2U marks a major milestone in our evolution,” said Anant Agarwal, founder and CEO of edX, in a statement. “2U’s people, technology, and scale will expand edX’s ability to deliver on its mission of providing access to high-quality education to enable all learners to unlock their potential.”


Massachusetts’ Charles River Laboratories International announced today that it has completed the acquisition of Rockville, Maryland-based Vigene Biosciences for $295.5 million. Contingent on future performance, Vigene could receive up to $57.5 million in additional payments, as well.

Vigene is a gene therapy contract development and manufacturing organization. It makes a vector-based gene therapy that is primarily used in gene and gene-modified cell therapies. James Foster, CEO of Charles River, said the acquisition enhances Charles River’s capabilities as a partner in gene therapies, and this portfolio addition expands long-term revenue and earnings growth potential in the sector.

“We intend to continue to differentiate Charles River by delivering the scientific expertise and customizable approach required to support the complex needs of cell and gene therapy developers and innovators worldwide,” Foster said. “Our goal is to become our clients’ scientific partner of choice for advanced drug modalities from discovery and non-clinical development to CGMP manufacturing.”


Higher ed technology company Ellucian was acquired by the Blackstone Group and Vista Equity Partners this month, the Reston-based company announced in a post.

The pair acquired Ellucian from private equity platform TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners. The investment will be made through long-term, private equity strategies, although terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

“We are excited to welcome Blackstone and Vista Equity Partners to the Ellucian team at such a pivotal time in higher education,” said Laura Ipsen, president and CEO of Ellucian. “Their investment strategy represents a long-horizon commitment to our company with significant new capital to accelerate digital transformation, our open SaaS platform and international growth.”

This follows a period of change for Ellucian. Just last month, Steve Harris was announced as the new chief revenue officer following a 23-year stint at Dell, and it was recently named as the cloud partner for Virginia’s Shenandoah University. According to PE Hub, TPG and Leonard Green were set to sell the company in 2019, targeting $5 billion.


BioIVT, a New York-based drug and diagnostic research company, acquired Winchester, Virgnia-based Valley Biomedical Products & Services for an undisclosed amount.

Valley Biomedical offers products for the biotechnology, research and development and clinical diagnostics industries and FDA-registered medical device manufacturers. The company’s Winchester facility will remain open and operated by BioIVT and all staff will be maintained.

“We had been looking for a partner with similar values and expertise to allow us to continue to grow our business in a smart and thoughtful way,” said Mario Romano, president of Valley Biomedical in a statement. “We are confident that our customers will benefit from this new relationship with BioIVT. They will continue to receive the excellent customer service that they expect from Valley Biomedical, while also gaining access to a much wider range of products and services.”


Herndon, Virginia’s Privia, which provides capture and proposal management solutions to government contractors, was acquired by Norwegian software company Xait.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but a statement from Privia said that five employees will be joining the Xait team. With the acquisition, Xait will be adding over 10,000 users to its customer base from companies including KBRwyle, Optum, ManTech International and Idemia.

“We are committed to helping our government contractor customers collaborate, save time and deliver winning proposals,” said Privia CFO David Valdez in a statement. “I can’t think of a better partner than Xait and their benchmark team co-authoring and automation software with whom to continue this journey.

Companies: 2U / Blackstone
Series: M&A Moves

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