Nottingham’s CRO forest thriving: UK Contractors tout new collaboration model

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Biocity in Nottingham formerly owned by Boots Company.
Biocity in Nottingham formerly owned by Boots Company.

Related tags Life Biology

Some drug industry sponsors shy away from “jack of all trades” contractors according to a recently formed UK CRO network which says smaller firms with specific expertise can win market share.

UK-based contractors Molecular Profiles, XenoGesis, Aurelia BioScience, Reach Separations, Charnwood Molecular and Biopta teamed up in February to provide industry sponsors with a network of specialist labs, each catering for a different part of the drug development process.

At first glance the strategy seems to be at odds with the current drug industry vogue for working with a smaller number of long-term partners with full service capabilities​.

However, sponsors still value expertise according to XenoGesis managing director Richard Weaver, who told network companies win business “because we're more individually expert rather than a ’jack of all trades’.​”

Many times I've witnessed clients shying away from larger organisations to get the absolute best expert help from smaller, expert and more nimble companies such as Molecular Profiles, Reach Separations and XenoGesis,​” he added.

Weaver set out the group’s strategy at a UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) backed conference in Denmark this week, joining representatives from other CROs in the network at an event at the residence of the British Ambassador in Copenhagen.

He told us the idea is to provide drug industry customers with a flexible approach and that contracting one member of the network does not commit a sponsor to working with other members of the group.

All the companies are very aware of the other company’s expert capabilities and after discussions with the client, if they find that there are areas that the other companies could help with, they make an introduction​.”

Nottingham connection

All members of the network are based or have their origins at BioCity in Nottingham in the UK and the focus on working together is something the organisation tries to foster according to director, Toby Reid.

Collaboration is at the heart of BioCity's approach across the group's four sites and this philosophy of clustering, sharing and collaborating also applies to this market visit. It is about sharing ideas and exploring synergies.

This open approach is what will help life sciences businesses to thrive, whether it is in exploring new business opportunities and partnerships, or discussing how best to mitigate risk and remove barriers to trading​."

This was echoed by Glenn Crocker from BioCity’s venture capital investment arm Mobius Life Sciences, who told us “one of the benefits to a company of being based at BioCity is the ease with which this sort of collaboration can take place and it’s something which we actively promote.

Moreover, we often hear that customers love the fact that they can get the benefits of a one-stop-shop by using companies that work together at BioCity, whilst being able to pick and choose the best aspects from a selection of companies​.” 

Crocker also highlighted the benefits for the firms involved adding that they “tend to be more successful and grow faster than they would if operating alone. The survival rate of life science companies over the past 12 years is 91%.”

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