The University of Exeter and Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) have announced their strategic partnership to accelerate medicines Research & Development (R&D), creating value for the sector and enhancing translational skills.

MDC is the national centre for technology, innovation and adoption for medicines R&D and, in collaboration with the University of Exeter and its ground-breaking researchers, will maximise the impact and value of basic medical research, to the ultimate benefit of patients. Importantly, this partnership also produces a post-COVID blueprint for academic-Catapult collaboration to drive UK productivity.

To discover new medicines, high quality research must be translated into new drug candidates or technologies through an industrial process of refinement and structured experimentation. This combination of academic endeavour with industrial rigour is critical to produce assets that can be adopted by industry or funded by venture capital. Sharing skills and experience across these two disciplines is also key to how translation can be dramatically improved across UK institutions at this time of exceptional challenge.

Coupling the world-class research at Exeter with MDC’s industry skills, cutting-edge discovery platforms, data technologies and access to its national networks ensures promising innovations are identified, independently validated and packaged so that industry and funders are able to adopt them, with clear benefits to the entire community.

Activities of focus for the partners can be broadly categorised as follows:

Identifying research that can be supported at its earliest stages

Developing identified innovation into an independently validated proposition, allowing investors and pharmaceutical partners to join projects with confidence

Embedding industry standard drug discovery thinking and knowledge at the point of ideation, creating better medicines of the future

Identifying and developing new mechanisms to sustain the development of these medicines, through novel funding mechanisms and partnerships

Collaboration between the two organisations was initiated and facilitated by Dr. Jehangir Cama, David Whitehouse and Prof. Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova, members of the Wellcome Trust funded ‘Translational Research Exchange @ Exeter’ (TREE).

Joint events were hosted pre-COVID-19 at Exeter’s flagship Living Systems Institute to identify early stage innovation, which subsequently initialised several projects involving University of Exeter academic staff, pre-spin out companies and industry specialists at MDC to create independently validated propositions and thus accelerate their development to clinic.

The announced formal agreement of a strategic partnership between the University and MDC will now further strengthen and develop the collaboration, delivering a new paradigm for University-Catapult cooperation and translational science in the UK.