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Medicines Discovery Catapult and We Share Ventures collaborate in novel funding partnership to drive medicines discovery in areas of unmet patient need

Medicines Discovery Catapult

4 min read Partner content

Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) and We Share Ventures have embarked on a joint venture, piloting an innovative funding model aimed at opening new funding opportunities for early-stage medicines discovery.

For too long, accessing catalytic funding has been a challenge for medicines discovery start-ups focused on areas of clinical unmet need. This impact-driven revolving funding model is the first of its kind in the sector and has the potential to create and sustain funding opportunities for medicines discovery start-ups focused on patient impact.

The pilot brings together We Share’s innovative impact-driven revolving funding model with MDC Syndicate’s programme, enabling promising start-ups in the medicine discovery space access to long-term capital in the early phases of their growth. This approach has the potential to drive new treatments that could change the lives of vast numbers of people, whose clinical needs are currently not being met.

MDC Syndicates are patient-focused partnerships that connect patient insights with industry know-how to progress promising ideas, positioning them for further development and investment. They are currently focused in three areas: infections associated with infection in cystic fibrosis, hearing loss and tinnitus, and psychiatric disorders.

We Share’s innovative philanthropic approach is underpinned by a share-it-forward principle, where grants are raised via philanthropic donations and awarded to relevant start-ups with favourable conditions - a long-term repayment, based on success milestones. This, in turn, creates a revolving funding pool to support a new generation of impact-driven start-ups.   

While venture capital has been highly successful in many areas in driving world-class medicines discovery, many areas such as hearing and antimicrobial resistance, have been underfunded due to the high-risk nature of generating financially viable returns.

Professor Chris Molloy, CEO, Medicines Discovery Catapult, said: “Impact investment is an ideal source of funding for medicines discovery. It is long-term, people-centred, scalable  and accessible to all. This fits and fuels the patient-centred R&D engine that the Syndicates have pioneered, and is an exciting  innovation in drug discovery.”  

“The MDC-We Share approach allows medicine discovery start-ups to devote their energies to doing what they do best: R&D. The potential for this new model is huge – across every therapeutic area - and we are delighted to be partnering with We Share for what could be a game-changing moment in UK medicines R&D.”

Edward de Jager, Founder of We Share Ventures and Chairman of the Board , Unknown Group, said: “Despite its many successes, the traditional model of utilising venture capital to fund projects into medicines discovery cannot cater for every area of research, especially in the early stages of their development.”

“Some areas require a different model to provide them with the funding they need to produce ground-breaking research that can ultimately add great societal and economic benefits.

“Our collaboration with MDC does just that and we are excited to partner with such a reputable organisation, drive innovation in medicine discovery and support early-stage medicines developers for the unmet needs of the patients.”

Board of Director and Lead Expert on Policy at the Impact Investing institute, Ida Levine, has been incredibly supportive of collaboration describing the new funding model as having “the potential to support vital areas of medicines research and innovation by giving greater access to funding to those who have the expertise to make an impact”.

Launching in Autumn 2021, MDC and We Share will hold a call for applications for start-ups across Europe with preclinical-stage medicines discovery projects aiming to address patient need in cystic fibrosis-related infections, hearing loss and tinnitus and psychiatric disorders.

MDC will undertake due diligence, in collaboration with its Syndicate networks, to identify innovative and scientifically robust projects with the potential to address patient need. Whilst We Share will be responsible for assessing business and funding models to ensure selected start-ups have the best chance of success.

At least two projects that demonstrate high potential to create patient impact will be selected and added to We Share’s philanthropic funding platform to secure funding and join the We Share community.

If you are interested in learning more about supporting early stage medicines discovery please email [email protected]

If you are a company developing innovative early-stage drug discovery research in these three areas: infection in cystic fibrosis, hearing loss and tinnitus, and psychiatric disorders and would like more information please email [email protected]

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