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Supporting science startups
NEW YORK—Elsevier, the global information analytics business specializing in science and health, announced that six startup companies have been selected from more than 150 global applicants for The Hive, Elsevier’s innovation initiative for biotech and pharmaceutical startups. The Hive, which first launched in 2016 with four startups selected to take part, engages the global pharma community via content featuring the participants, which will be promoted throughout Elsevier’s online and social networks.
Elsevier provides digital solutions and tools in the areas of strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support and professional education for 18 months to startups working on a wide range of technologies and discoveries. Companies were selected for their commitment to cutting-edge science in emerging areas of research and potential to impact how future treatments are researched and developed.
Scotland-based Exscientia uses systems driven by AI to actively learn best practices from vast repositories of discovery data and design millions of novel, project-specific compounds to automate drug design. South Korea-based LegoChem Biosciences, the first Hive participant from Asia, develops antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) utilizing its proprietary ADC platform ConjuAll, which provides solutions for major unmet needs in ADC development.
In addition, 4P-Pharma, from France, bridges the gap between academic discoveries and the pharma industry, helping to mature early-stage technologies from the drug discovery level to clinical phase and commercialization. Beacon Discovery, from San Diego, composed of scientists who have worked together for more than a decade, leverages academic and pharma partnerships to advance research around translating G-protein coupled receptors into new therapeutics.
Finally, Sigilon Therapeutics of Cambridge, Mass., develops treatments based on a platform enabling a new therapeutic modality for chronic diseases that are currently treated with intermittent injection or infusion, and Unum Therapeutics, also in Cambridge, develops novel immunotherapy products based on its universal antibody-coupled T-cell receptor to treat many types of cancer.
“As the pharma ecosystem grapples with how to incorporate artificial intelligence into R&D, or how to accelerate the discovery of new biologics and immunotherapies, startups around the globe are playing a pivotal role,” said Betsy Davis, senior strategic marketing manager at Elsevier. “We received more than three times the number of applications than in 2016, underlining the importance that startups place on the role of discovery solutions in innovation.”
She added, “This year, to demonstrate the vast contribution of startups in the origin of drug discoveries, we will especially focus on helping these companies close the gap between concept and commercialization, particularly for startups from academic backgrounds. We look forward to sharing the stories of these dynamic, exciting biotech startups with a global audience.”
According to Christy Wilson, global leader of Life Sciences and Healthcare Solutions at Elsevier, “All of the applications we received showed that startups around the globe are doing some really exciting work. Choosing just six was extremely hard ... Each company demonstrated a commitment to addressing an area of high need in therapeutics and represented cutting-edge approaches to research—including how automation and artificial intelligence can support better drug discovery.”
Wilson explained that the ultimate goal of The Hive is “to highlight and bolster the dynamism of the pharmaceutical and biotech space, by recognizing the important role startups play in drug discovery both now and in the future.” She added that almost half of big pharma’s R&D pipelines are now externally sourced, and Elsevier wants to share the unique approaches of these “nimble” organizations, noting that Elsevier is “really looking forward to getting feedback from the startup teams on how they use our products, and how we can further improve or tweak the solutions to help them access and analyze scientific literature critical to their work.”
One of the biggest challenges for any small company developing technologies and therapies for multiple diseases, according to Wilson, is the ability to rapidly get up to speed on different disease areas and other technical advances critical to advancing its work to the benefit of patients. She added, “Using Elsevier’s solutions will help the participants to overcome this challenge with the ultimate aim of achieving faster scientific breakthroughs. The journey from concept to commercialization will rely on many external factors, but we are confident that our products will empower each startup’s research by helping them to make better-- informed decisions and accelerating their route to market.”
Wilson concluded, “Following the success of our Hive projects in 2016 and 2017, demonstrated by the increase in applications we had this year, we plan to run The Hive again in 18 months with another intake of startups. One thing the Hive offers is a far-reaching platform to share success stories, and we plan to further share and amplify the successes of our Hive participants to the wider industry. Any startup that would be interested in participating in future opportunities should go to The Hive website and follow us. Potential applicants can then keep up to date on the progress of our 2018 participants and stay informed about the latest announcements.”