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LAB282, the University’s drug discovery partnership, has made its first round of investments and is preparing for its second. But what is it, who’s it for, and how can you benefit from it? The fund’s expert-in-residence, Thomas Hanke, explains.

LAB282, the drug discovery partnership for Oxford University, is already having impact.

Thomas Henke - LAB 282Launched last year, the fund exists to rapidly accelerate life sciences research to reality. Its first wave of projects, backed in February, included evasins derived from the saliva of ticks and a potential target for antibiotics in tuberculosis. Now, the fund is looking to further entrench itself in the Oxford ecosystem as LAB282 heads towards its second round.

“LAB282 is striving to develop a novel approach to drug acceleration,” explains Thomas Hanke, LAB282’s expert-in-residence. “This is achieved through matching a top university – Oxford – with a technology provider – Evotec – and combining that with a ready supply of investment – Oxford Sciences Innovation.”

Backed with £13m from Oxford Sciences Innovation and Evotec, the Partnership is looking to fully commit its funds over the length of its three-year deal. LAB282 aims to fund between 10-15 projects a year with a target of 40 by the time it completes. The fund is providing large scale awards of £250,000 (with the ability to go higher for exceptional ideas) and small scale awards of £25,000 to rapidly developing projects and create spinouts.

“All parties in this fund strongly support drug development here at Oxford, and believe it is critical to identify and support projects with translational potential,” said Hanke.

Thomas Henke Hanke, who is Germany-based but on the ground at Oxford three days a week to encourage interaction between LAB282 and researchers, thinks that the fund is attractive for a number of reasons.

“First, we have Evotec. Apollo Therapeutics [the drug discovery fund of UCL, ICL, and Cambridge] has a similar vision, but doesn’t have one single pre-clinical drug discovery focused biotech at the centre driving validation, and industry recognises the contribution we add in that process,” explained Hanke. “We also offer a quick turnaround time for awards – getting feedback to academics within three months – and offer four award sessions through the year with the opportunity to reapply for those who didn’t quite make it the first time around.”

Aside from funding, successful applicants will also receive advice, support and mentoring from Oxford University Innovation and Hanke, a former tech scout and a biotech expert. In return, funding supplied to projects will be converted into an equity stake for Evotec if successfully translated into a spinout.

Interested academics can still apply for the next round of funding in June. Potential projects should:

  • Be a therapeutic
  • Be novel
  • Have a reasonable time to a validating data point
  • Be at the proof-of-concept stage
  • Have the potential to generate a new spinout company.

The deadline is 8 May. Further details on how to apply.