The multi-year insourcing agreement with the Belgian biopharmaceutical company makes use of available research laboratories and equipment at UCB.
Per the agreement, NovAliX will provide on-site discovery chemistry services to support small molecules drug discovery programs.
Details of the agreement have not been disclosed; however, Stephan Jenn, President at NovAliX, told us the idea is to improve the efficiency of “the R&D engine.”
“For now, we will focus on delivering synthetic chemistry services to UCB medicinal chemists,” he said. “The idea is that UCB medchem scientists will concentrate on the design of novel compounds with therapeutic traits and the NovAliX insourced team will focus on developing synthetic methodologies to access the target compounds.”
Jenn explained the Illkirch, France-based CRO has a significant pool of chemists across Europe operating under the collaborative model, so it was able to start with a core team familiar with insourcing, though some recruitment was necessary to fully launch the service at UCB.
A 'refinement' of the discovery services sourcing model
“Beyond outsourcing, if a pharma company has available laboratory space, insourced teams operated by CROs can offer the same benefits but with a significant cost advantage,” Jenn told us.
Additionally, he said the model offers other benefits, such as decreased turnaround time due to proximity, and quality communication between scientists.
“On a more subtle level, this allows the fine-tuning of the R&D engine in terms of organization,” said Jenn, adding that it is “a refinement of the discovery services sourcing model.”
“Certain things are outsourced, others are insourced, that articulation is not only based on costs, but also on the nature of service and the requirement for proximity with the pharma scientists,” he explained.
Jenn said he believes the insourcing will gain momentum, not only because it is cost-effective but because it “really energizes scientific organization.”
“It brings to the host another scientific culture, additional expertise, a discipline in R&D execution as it is KPI monitored, therefore it is transformational for the host in a way that is not so in outsourcing,” he added.
Ultimately, Jenn said the insourcing model is a collaborative model, which “contributes to the internal consolidation of scientific knowledge, something that is critical to success in discovery and that cannot be achieved via an outsourcing collaboration.”
“Experimental and scientific knowledge benefits most when not solely to the external providers.”
NovAliXcurrently works with five partners from the top 50 pharmaceutical companies as well as seven research sites across Europe, all of which operate on the co-located research program model.