The UK-based firm is a finalist for Best New Product, Most Innovative Relationship and Best Contract Analytical Project. The company claims its business model combines the advantage of outsourcing some of the laboratory research processes with having a dedicated team of scientists on site to conduct work in the lab. Synergy brings laboratory services directly to its clients' sites, using an in-house outsourcing approach. "Traditional in-house work has problems that are recognised and pharma companies usually rely on outsourcing to tackle issues involved with conducting the research themselves," Roger Granville, business consultant at Synergy, told Outsourcing-Pharma.com. "But outsourcing to a contract research organisation also has its inconveniencies, including issues with transparency, intellectual property and visibility." "Even when pharma companies rely heavily on outsourcing, there is always intrinsic routine work that needs to be done," he said. These tasks cannot be outsourced in the traditional way because they are intrinsic to the lab's operations. However, it also does not make sense to have high trained scientists doing these tasks. The other alternative for drug companies is to hire contingency workers. But contingency worker solutions simply provide staff to perform work in the lab, with no responsibility for productivity, quality or efficiency. The company has therefore come up with a novel solution which aims at tackling the bottlenecks of both systems. "We offer a full package, an alternative approach with the advantages of both in-house work and outsourcing solutions," said Granville. "We bring our own team into a company with a defined set of tasks. So we give the lab the continuity of work without having to increase headcount." The company also plays on its "low carbon footprint" advantage for pharma companies as clients do not have to send samples to off-site CRO laboratories. In addition, Granville explained, Synergy assumes responsibility for all facets of the teams' operation, from human resources and payroll to training and quality control. The company says it can run a client's stability testing programme or in some projects represents the bridge between a client's manufacturing facility and analytical laboratory. In addition, the firm says it can also manage storage of data. "The main question pharma companies need to ask themselves is what is their core business? Is it drug discovery or do they want to turn into a lab management business?" said Granville. Outsourcing some of their lab procedures while keeping the work in-house can help companies to focus on drug discovery. Synergy claims it is the only company in the UK with such a business model. Granville explained that the company's owners have spent several years making sure the concept was validated and the firm officially launched its services last year. "Our teams' level of responsiveness and reaction is instant. They deal with the client face to face and can adapt to a change straight away," he said. "We attract clients at both ends of the spectrum from small biotech companies, who want to focus on their core business, to big pharma who like our fixed-cost model." Synergy currently has five teams working on projects in the UK. Each team can be as small as two people and as big as 20. The company works on 12-month contracts as it is keen to secure long-term and stable partnerships with its clients, said Granville. At the moment the firm only works with UK-based clients but the objective is to develop the business and eventually work across Europe. The award winners will be announced during a ceremony scheduled to take place at the CPHI meeting in Milan on 3 October.