NNIT Evolves by Joining Forces with SL Controls

NNIT has evolved quite dramatically over the years, from a small independent IT consultancy born out of Novo Nordisk to a publicly-listed company and now an international group of companies in its own right.

SL Controls, focused on delivering smart manufacturing and integration solutions for the life sciences and technology sectors, was acquired by NNIT in July 2021. The strategic rationale was clear on both sides: In joining forces, NNIT and SL Controls would be able to offer their customers the full range of IT services to support the entire pharmaceutical supply chain – from the implementation of a manufacturing execution system (MES), over the efficient integration and validation of production equipment systems, and to packaging and delivery.

Shared vision of growing together

By 2020, SL Controls had grown from a small enterprise business to a successful €10 million company, employing 100 people across a number of locations in Ireland and the US, but they were struggling to scale further as they were ‘too big to be small and too small to be big’, as CEO Keith Moran puts it.

So when, in February 2021, an email arrived from KPMG in Denmark on behalf of a client, Keith Moran decided to take a second look. That second look led to a call and some follow-up emails, one of which contained a nice presentation from NNIT; and that, in turn, led to a first virtual meeting to talk about the possibility of an acquisition. The meeting went well, with both parties feeling like the cultural fit was there.

CEO Keith Moran elaborates: ‘We get a lot of emails of that sort, and I think what made us proceed was that it was a European/Danish company. I made the link with NNE and Novo Nordisk, and it looked like a company with vision and ambition ; and a group that could provide us with the extra capability we needed to scale. When we met with Rasmus [Nelund] and Thomas [Halfmann], we hit it off. It was informal and relaxed, but serious at the same time, we had good chemistry, and it was obvious that the match was a 2+2 equals 5 kind of thing.’

From initial contact to signed contract, five months passed, which is very quick and a testament to the neat and tidiness of the SL Controls operation. The due diligence phase took less than two months, and because the M&A process did not drag out, SL Controls was able to focus on the business throughout, Keith Moran explains and credits the team with putting in an incredible effort.

Ireland is a global hub for the life science industry

Aside from the fact that SL Controls and NNIT perfectly complement each other on skillsets when it comes to the pharma production process, SL Controls bringing levels 1–2 (plant) and NNIT bringing levels 3–4 (enterprise and cloud), SL Controls’ location in Ireland is key.

Ireland has emerged as a preferred location for many of the pharma greats with years of work being put into attracting pharma investments, and many of the key engineering staff working globally while being based in Ireland. ‘The potential Ireland holds for global growth outward in the pharma industry is not to be underestimated,” Keith Moran emphasizes, and points to another reason the marriage between SL Controls and NNIT is an attractive union: We share the same vision and ambition for global growth, and I believe we have the right momentum within Manufacturing Execution System integration and migration of data to the cloud at the moment. It’s a great advantage to be able to offer customers the full stack of production IT and supply chain services. Together, we have a unique position and can offer our customers end-to-end services on a global scale.’

Customers want the full stack

Looking into the future, Keith Moran sees fantastic opportunities as part of the NNIT Group to meet customers’ demand for one-stop-shopping when it comes to Production IT for life sciences.

‘SL Controls is known and recognized by life sciences and technologies companies as a leader within manufacturing execution systems, systems integration and smart manufacturing consulting. Together with the NNIT Group, we can offer our customers so much more, we’re starting to really see that. We have weekly touchpoints with NNIT’s Production IT solutions team and salesforce, and as Covid-19 hopefully subsides, we’ll be able to get together even more; as well as present a united front to our customers.’