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.
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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
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 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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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.