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Partnerships with industry


The Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research (WIBR) aims to foster the conversion of scientific results into intellectual property amenable to development and application. To achieve this, a business development office has been established. The activity of this office has been concentrated in two major areas: (1) establishment of collaborative projects with industrial partners and (2) setting up of spin-out companies. WIBR has already established a good record through both these routes which are coordinated by our Business Development Manager.


Tony Dunne
Email: Anthony.Dunne@_ucl.ac.uk (remove underscore for actual address)

Denise Beales
Email: Denise.Beales@_ucl.ac.uk
(remove underscore for actual address)

Collaborative projects

WIBR has particular strengths in medicinal chemistry, molecular biology, pharmacology, neuroscience and animal behaviour. These strengths enable us to offer our partners projects varying from detailed investigation of the mode of action of a new drug to complete drug-candidate discovery programmes. Accessing such a broad skill base within a recognised centre of excellence affords the collaborator a cost-effective means to enter new research areas without extensive internal investment.

Previous and present collaborators include: GlaxoWellcome (GSK); Pfizer; Solvay; Bayer AG; Argonaut Technologies; Vernalis; The Automation Partnership; United Therapeutics; Tripos; Toyama; Mitsubishi; Hybrigenics; Syngenta; NicOx SA and all our spin-out companies.
Spin-out companies

Spin-out companies created to date have raised in the region of £100 million in venture capital based on intellectual property arising from research within WIBR or from the collaborations. The earliest of these companies, such as Ark Therapeutics, are nearing their initial public offering.

Ark Therapeutics 

Set up in 1997 with seed investment from Merlin Ventures, Ark Therapeutics (originally called Eurogene) focused initially on cardiovascular vascular gene therapy and subsequently diversified into other areas.


Founded in 1998 as a leading bioinformatics company, Inpharmatica secured seed capital from Unibio Ltd, subsequently attracting an investor syndicate led by 3i and GIMV.

Arrow Therapeutics

Set up in 1998, Arrow uses genome-based approaches for discovery of novel anti-infective targets and drugs. The company's expertise in this area was further enhanced by the acquisition of Oxford Gene Technologies in 2002.


This company was established in 1997 as a joint venture between WIBR and the then leading UK neuroscience biotechnology company, Cerebrus Ltd. As part of the Vanguard Medica acquisition of Cerebrus in 1999, CereXus underwent a trade sale to the combined company Vernalis plc (www.vernalis.com).

NCE Discovery

Formed in 2001, NCE offers the biotechnology sector access to medicinal chemistry. Having established a significant revenue stream, the emphasis for the company is to enter into collaborative projects in which risk and return are shared in the making of target molecules. Operating at the academia-industry interface.

UCL-Cruciform Ltd

In order to facilitate interactions between the Institute and our industrial partners, the founders of WIBR established a trading subsidiary, UCL Cruciform Ltd. All intellectual property generated in WIBR is transferred by UCL to this company, which acts as an agent for its development. Skills in project management, business development and technology exploitation are in this way brought together with the scientific expertise within the WIBR to the academia-industry interface. The unique mix of competences and experience at the WIBR adds value to every part of the drug-discovery process in multiple disease areas. Access to such skill bases and facilities allows us to tailor an agreed project to fit the needs of our commercial partners, whether new ventures or existing companies.

Through UCL Cruciform Ltd we are dedicated to provision of a professional and focused interface through which the world-class science and technology available within WIBR can be accessed by companies. In addition, UCL Cruciform Ltd remains a shareholder in all our associated spin-out companies. The success of all these activities will generate additional funding which will be returned to UCL, WIBR and the individual researchers responsible for creation of our intellectual property asset portfolio.

A focused approach to revenue generation and reinvestment

UCL Cruciform Ltd is part of the framework that has been established both to enable members of the Institute to benefit from our interactions with commercial partners and to allow a significant proportion of the proceeds from the activities of WIBR to be directed towards reinvestment in further research within the Institute.
UCL retains a 50% equity stake in UCL Cruciform Ltd while the other 50% is owned by UCL Cruciform Trust, a charity which was created with the objective of providing support for the continuing activities of WIBR. Income flows into UCL Cruciform Trust through shareholder dividends from UCL Cruciform Ltd when successful technology commercialisation has taken place. Formation of this dedicated funding stream provides a mechanism by which all members of WIBR can directly benefit from our commercial activities, irrespective of their source.

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