Merger with Via Nova

Published On: 11. March 2022

Via Nova joins Altano Group as the first Belgian branch to share veterinary expertise and strengthen the international network

Via Nova joins forces with German equine clinic group Altano, providing state-of-the-art veterinary care in Europe. Indeed, Altano group is a leading international group, supporting horse clinics and practices in providing the best veterinary care by sharing expertise and know-how across equine hospitals.

Altano group contains 39 equine practices/clinics and includes over 1.000 employees of which 337 veterinarians1. They are currently present in Germany, France, The Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. The Altano group is being financially and organizationally supported2 from the beginning by Swiss Ufenau Capital Partners that currently own 17 different industry groups3. Via Nova is the first Belgian clinic joining the group and demonstrating the group’s ambition to expand their geographic coverage.

The Belgian horse industry is worth for 3.3 billion euro of revenue of which 2.5 billion in Flanders and offers jobs for 30.000 people. At the previous Olympic games 28% (25 of 90) of all horses were from Belgian origin and for this reason, the famous of the earth are finding their way to the country. Also, Via Nova is not unknown to Jessica Springsteen (US), Mid Romney (former US president candidate), Christian Dior Couture, GLOCK, Porsche, ZARA and LEGO. Although the founders want to emphasize that everyone “from farmer to famous” gets the same treatment!

Via Nova is Latin and means: “The new way”. It was one of the two main roads that led lost travelers back to the right path in ancient Rome. This name reflects the innovative nature of medical treatments and the ambition to get patients ‘back on track’ together with the referring veterinarians.

The acquisition follows within 3 years after launching Via Nova in October 2019. Via Nova became a scientific center where veterinarians can engage in innovative treatments, follow training courses, and can refer and discuss patients. The clinic got extensive media coverage because of the first use of augmented reality glasses to project CT images during surgery.

Via Nova has over 8.000 m² state-of-the art facilities equipped for equine orthopedics, surgery, medical imaging and hospitalization. The founders raised 6 million euros as starting capital with the support of private investors, KBC bank, the Flemish participation fund (PMV) and the Flemish Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Vlaio).

Via Nova currently has 30 employees and an average of over 3.000 consults per year. The unique features of the clinic blow a fresh wind in the equine clinic landscape. Founding veterinarian Marc Suls has built up a strong curriculum over the past 35 years in guiding top sport horses all over the world as (Swiss, British, Irish, Danish, Korean, Ukraine and Japanese) team vet at 6 Olympic Games and several World Equestrian Games and treating vet of several Individual Gold Medalists (Ullrich Kirchhoff with Jus de Pommes, Rodrigo Pessoa with Baloubet du Rouet, Edward Gal with Totilas and Michael van der Vleuten with Verdi). Founding veterinary pair Jan Spaas and Sarah Broeckx performed groundbreaking work in drug development. Over the past 10 years, they have established innovative medicines that have been recognized by the European medicines authorities4 and the European Commission5 and that are endorsed by 13 global patents and 37 scientific publications.

The founders have a proven track record in successful entrepreneurship as they also founded the veterinary stem cell company (GST) that was acquired by pharma giant Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health in 2020 to strengthen their innovative portfolio. Although no numbers were shared, this was awarded as one of the key M&A’s in 2020.

Statements from the key stakeholders:

Marc Suls, founder of Via Nova: “The current partnership is a real enforcement for both teams. I have always valued collaboration a lot and I believe that we can do this to a greater extend within our own group. Every horse deserves the best treatment, and we can only achieve this when we realize when external expertise is required. The Altano group provides this and already before the acquisition we experienced a very high level of partnership with different members from the group.”

Jan Spaas, founder of Via Nova: “I am extremely excited that we join forces with Altano. This group shares our innovative culture and the open mind to share know-how and expertise. That was clear from the first day and there was an immediate connection with the directors and teams of Altano. The employment in Flanders is further guaranteed and international trainings and exchanges will even enforce our internal expertise which shows the ambition to grow of both Via Nova as Altano.”

Victor Baltus, CEO of the Altano group: “The strength of our group lies within bringing together experience, know-how and people. We believe that with Via Nova we found a partner that fits perfectly within this strategy. The state-of-the-art facilities are a real example for how the clinic of the future should look like. We can bring our experience and international network to the table to enforce the team and develop the clinic to its maximal potential.”

Erik Bergman, Medical director of Altano BeNeLux: “My clinic entered the Altano group as the first in the Netherlands and I have always ensured medical and operational independency. This is what makes us who we are and what ensures long-term sustainability for each clinic. Having Via Nova as the first Belgian clinic in the BeNeLux group is a match made in heaven. We share the same work ethics, scientifically driven culture and always put the patient first. I am very much looking forward to our collaboration and to empower the group even further.”

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