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Science news

Leveraging the UK’s renowned contract research sector to boost industrial growth

Today [26 April 2019], Medicines Discovery Catapult announces the launch of twenty-two partnerships with UK contract research organisations (CROs). The aim is to boost UK life sciences R&D and international competitiveness by channelling high quality projects through best-in-class service providers.

These world-class CROs join Medicines Discovery Catapult’s Virtual R&D Discovery Services platform. This combines full service and specialist private sector CROs and expert labs providing medicines discovery expertise, drug discovery services and state-of-the-art assays.

Drug discovery is complex, costly and multi-skilled. The industry has moved from a fully integrated model, to one which is performed through a ‘virtual’, or fully outsourced approach. It is also increasingly reliant on SMEs as a source of innovation. However, 42% of biotech SMEs have fewer than 5 employees and require access to the very best scientific expertise and technology[1].

To address this, Discovery Services leverages the Catapult’s unrivalled expertise and relationships, to match UK SMEs with the best CROs. They will deliver critical value-based experiments, ensure key data is captured and intellectual property is secured.

The CROs in the platform will benefit from deeper market penetration and access to new customers they would not have previously reached.

Medicines Discovery Catapult’s partners can also access wider Virtual R&D capabilities. For example; a full project review, including assessment of existing data packages, gap analysis, creation and management of detailed delivery plans, support interpreting and assessing data and advice on development plans.

Dr Peter Simpson, Chief Scientific Officer of Medicines Discovery Catapult, says:

“Our aim is to support SMEs and academia to deliver their own discovery projects through convenient access to excellent assays and specialist drug discovery services. UK-based CROs can meet a wide range of needs for drug discovery innovators, and we are delighted to work in partnership with them to provide advice and project management to help ensure these relationships are successful.”

Dr Kath Mackay, Director - Ageing Society, Health & Nutrition, Innovate UK says:

“The UK’s drug discovery ecosystem is rich in size and scope and CROs are a vital part of this economy. Working with Innovate UK, Medicines Discovery Catapult is playing a crucial role in supporting this sector. Bringing together academia, SMEs and CROs will drive drug discovery with benefits for society and the economy.”

Virtual R&D is helping UK-based Venture Capitalists, University technology transfer offices (TTOs), start-ups and spin outs perform experimental due diligence on their portfolios, assessing and maximising their value to industry.

Virtual R&D is a fully scalable platform that can be applied regardless of location. Through its wealth of world-class experts and service providers, the UK is well positioned to provide drug discovery services for international partners, helping them to efficiently manage their projects and portfolios.

Medicines Discovery Catapult’s Virtual R&D platform, forms part of the UK’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy – focussed on maintaining the UK’s strength and increasing the pace of economic growth in this sector.

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Katie Droogan