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Three global pharmaceutical companies (AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson Innovation) and the technology transfer offices of three world-leading universities (Imperial College London, University College London and the University of Cambridge) have joined forces with a combined £40 million to create the Apollo Therapeutics Fund (‘Apollo’). This pioneering new joint venture will support the translation of ground-breaking academic science from within these universities into innovative new medicines for a broad range of diseases.
Each of the three industry partner companies (AstraZeneca UK Limited, Glaxo Group Limited and Johnson & Johnson Innovation-JJDC, Inc.) will contribute £10 million over 6 years to the venture. The technology transfer offices (TTOs) of the three university partners - Imperial Innovations Group plc, Cambridge Enterprise Ltd Limited and UCL Business PLC - will each contribute a further £3.3 million. The aim of Apollo is to advance academic preclinical research from these universities to a stage at which it can either be taken forward by one of the industry partners following an internal bidding process or be out-licensed. The three industry partners will also provide R&D expertise and additional resources to assist with the commercial evaluation and development of projects.
Drug development is extremely complex, costly and lengthy; currently only around 10 percent of therapies entering clinical trials reach patients as medicines. By combining funding for promising early-stage therapeutics from leading UK universities with a breadth of industry expertise, Apollo aims to share the risk and accelerate the development of important new treatments, while also reducing the cost.
Dr Ian Tomlinson, former Senior Vice President, Worldwide Business Development and Biopharmaceuticals R&D, for GSK and founder & Chief Scientific Officer of Domantis Limited has been appointed Chairman of the Apollo Therapeutics Investment Committee (AIC). Comprising representatives from the six partners, the AIC will make all investment decisions.
The AIC will be advised by an independent Drug Discovery Team (DDT) of ex-industry scientists who will be employed by Apollo to work with the universities and their TTOs to identify and shape projects to bring forward for development. All therapy areas and modalities, including small molecules, peptides, proteins, antibodies, cell and gene therapies will be considered.
Apollo will be based at Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst. Once funded, projects will be progressed by the DDT alongside the university investigators, with other external resources and also in-kind resources from the industry partners as appropriate. For successful projects, the originating university and TTO will receive a percentage of future commercial revenues or out-licensing fees and the remainder will be divided amongst all the Apollo partners.
Dr Ian Tomlinson, Chairman of the Apollo Therapeutics Investment Committee commented:
“This is the first time that three global pharmaceutical companies and the TTOs of three of the world’s top ten universities have come together to form a joint enterprise of this nature, making the Apollo Therapeutics Fund a truly innovative venture.
Apollo provides an additional source of early stage funding that will allow more therapeutics projects within the three universities to realise their full potential. The active participation of the industry partners will also mean that projects will be shaped at a very early stage to optimise their suitability for further development.
The Apollo Therapeutics Fund should benefit the UK economy by increasing the potential for academic research to be translated into new medicines for patients the world over.”
*QS World University Rankings® 2015/16
About Apollo Therapeutics
The Apollo Therapeutics Fund is a unique collaboration between three global pharmaceutical companies (AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson) and the technology transfer offices (TTOs) responsible for commercialising the research from Imperial College London, UCL (University College London) and the University of Cambridge. The £40m fund will provide translational research funding for early-stage therapeutics projects arising from the three universities.
This is the first time that three global pharmaceutical companies and the TTOs of three world-leading universities have come together to form a joint enterprise of this nature, making the Apollo Therapeutics Fund a truly innovative venture.
It not only provides an additional source of early-stage funding that will allow more projects to be progressed, but also involves the active participation of the industry partners, bringing commercial drug development expertise. Projects will be shaped at a very early stage to optimise the chances of onward development.
Comment from Apollo Therapeutics Fund partners
Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President, Innovative Medicines and Early Development Biotech Unit:
“We are delighted to be part of the Apollo Therapeutics Fund which brings together the complementary skills of academia and pharma. This partnership aligns with our commitment to being an integral part of the research community in the UK and takes a highly innovative approach to sharing both the risks and the rewards of applied research. I am confident that by working with scientists from world leading universities in the UK, namely Cambridge, UCL and Imperial College, we will help convert ground breaking science into important new treatments for patients.”
AstraZeneca Media Contact:
Karen Birmingham, Global Science Media Relations Director, +44 7818 524012,
Iain Thomas, Head of Life Sciences, Cambridge Enterprise:
“Efficiently bringing together drug discovery expertise, potential customers, funding and project management, along with rapid decision making and execution through the Apollo Therapeutics Fund is a unique and extraordinarily exciting and valuable proposition for any academic or company that wants to see early stage ground breaking therapeutic technology progress to the clinic for patient benefit and economic return.”
Cambridge Enterprise media contact:
Leef Smith Barnes, Deputy Head, Marketing and Communications, +44 1223 760335,
Dr Steve Martin, Vice President Biopharm Discovery:
“Collaboration is one of our most powerful tools in the pursuit of new medicines. Working with experts outside our own laboratories exposes us to differing expertise and innovation and means we can jointly shoulder risk – which in turn enables us to pursue some really exciting, ambitious science.
“The Apollo Therapeutics Fund is a great example of this collaborative approach to research. By fusing the skills and resources of academic and industry scientists during the early stages of research, I believe we’ll dramatically increase our ability to identify and nurture outstanding academic research, which can turn innovative science into breakthrough treatments.”
GSK media contact:
Eleanor Bunch, Director, Global External Communications +44 20 8047 5502,
Tony Hickson, Managing Director Technology Transfer, Imperial Innovations:
“We are delighted to be at the heart of this truly ground-breaking consortium which we believe will significantly increase the pace at which novel academic research is translated from laboratories to patients.
“This an important new source of capital to progress IP from the outstanding research of these three world-class universities. We believe that the Apollo Therapeutics Fund will ultimately lead to the delivery of new medicines faster and cheaper, as well as generating new deal flow and licensing opportunities.”
Imperial Innovations media contacts:
Jon Davies, Director of Communications and Investor Relations, +44 20 3727 2044,
Gavin Reed, Communications and marketing executive, +44 203 053 8820,
Richard Mason, Head, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, London:
“The Apollo Therapeutics Fund creates a unique ecosystem of world-class universities and global pharmaceutical leaders, with the ability to advance some of our region’s most promising science and technology from the critical early phases through to novel patient solutions. By combining our resources and sharing risk, we will propel research that can catalyse transformative healthcare solutions worldwide.”
Johnson & Johnson Innovation media contact:
Meghan Marschall, Global Innovation Communications Leader, +1 201-323-0578,
Cengiz Tarhan, Managing Director, UCLB:
“We are pleased to be part of this new venture which gives our ground-breaking medical research greater opportunity to deliver significant benefits for patients. UCL is a world leader in the biomedical sciences, with a commitment to outstanding research and the Apollo Therapeutics Fund will provide us access to resources enabling projects to reach their full potential.”
UCL Business media contact:
Margaret-Anne Orgill, Media Relations Manager UCL Enterprise, +44 7572 602345,
Media contact for Apollo Therapeutics:
Sue Charles/Rozi Morris
+44 (0)20 7457 2020