Evotec taps into Oxford innovation through £13m grant scheme

By Dani Bancroft contact

- Last updated on GMT

Evotec taps into Oxford innovation through £13m grant scheme

Related tags: Contract research organization, Novo nordisk

Dubbed LAB282, the £13m (€15M) Oxford University drug discovery program with Evotec has announced two grant winners and a second set of awards of up to £250,000.

Launched in November at Oxford University, LAB282 has now elected its first wave of funding awards for academia, backing two project proposals on novel targets in cardiovascular and infectious diseases.

“Drugs from Bugs” will research evasins, a potential treatment for cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases derived from the saliva of ticks.

The second grant will research DarTG - a potential new target for the development of antibiotics that could shut down tuberculosis and several other pathogens.

Carolyn Porter, Deputy Head of Tech Transfer of LAB282 told us the accelerator is “agnostic about the seniority of the projects”,​ instead focusing on the research potential to generate new therapeutic targets.

“It's a dedicated £13m fund for investing and deploying expertise in early stage drug discovery projects with the expectation that these projects will give rise to new spin-out companies,” ​Herder explained.

LAB282 is governed by a joint steering committee, with representatives from each of the four partners: Oxford University Innovation Ltd, Oxford Sciences Innovation plc (OSI) and the German contract research organization (CRO) Evotec.

Herder added: “OSI is new £580M fund established to invest in Oxford University spin-out companies.” ​A second round of grants from LAB282 will be awarded in June, for a potential value of up to £250,000.  

Expert in Residence

Herder also told us one benefits of this system is having an expert in residence for the program: Thomas Hanke is employed by Evotec and spends three days of the week in Oxford to advise on the downstream development of these projects.

Hanke’s full role is to source new projects for LAB282 and also help shape their proposals, coordinate Evotec's input on the projects and the aid the delivery of the program of work that is agreed, Porter told us.

“This could include activities such as target validation or lead optimization depending on the project scope,”​ she added.

Tech transfer

Oxford University has other industry springboards, including a £115m investment​ by Novo Nordisk for research on Diabetes type II: “But that's more of an on campus interface with various groups,” ​Herder told us.

So, although the program doesn’t have the same sort of dedicated space to operate, LAB282 is “quite unique.”

Herder continued “It is hoped LAB282’s projects will eventually build a data package and asset for a spin out company in the future.”

Yet, although Oxford Sciences Innovation is anticipated to be involved in funding the company in the future, the new company is not obliged to do so, she added.

(Feature Image: iStock/niejenoor)

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