Support For SBC's OI Challenge From Drug Discovery Specialist Astex Pharmaceuticals

Result of neurodegenerative diseases competition to be announced in New Year

Stevenage UK, November 11 2014 – Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC), the UK’s first open innovation bioscience campus, is pleased to announce that it has joined forces with Astex Pharmaceuticals, a pharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of small molecule therapeutics, on its neurodegenerative diseases challenge. The partnership will allow an increased number of the challenge's shortlisted research proposals to be funded, while giving Astex an insight into the latest UK academic research in the neurosciences.

The Open Innovation Challenge in Neurodegenerative Disease was launched by SBC, Manchester: Integrating Medicine and Innovative Technology (MIMIT) and six leading Academic Health Science Centre Technology Transfer Organisations1 in May 20142. Under the challenge, which was developed to address growing healthcare needs in neurodegenerative disease, the research proposals received will undergo review by a panel of industry, public sector and research charity experts. The results are expected to be announced at the beginning of 2015.

Operating from two sites, with drug discovery research located in Cambridge, UK and clinical development in California, USA, Astex is part of Japanese pharmaceutical company Otsuka Pharmaceutical. Otsuka Pharmaceutical's neuroscience expertise makes Astex an ideal partner in this OI challenge.

Martino Picardo, CEO of SBC, said, 'Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst is delighted to welcome Astex as a partner in this neurodegenerative challenge. Its support brings significant validation of the approach and allows us to fund more of the impressive proposals the initiative has attracted. We hope to be able to announce other collaborators in due course, and look forward to revealing the winning projects at the beginning of next year.' Harren Jhoti, President & CEO of Astex Pharmaceuticals, commented, 'With recent data indicating that the annual cost of dementia to the UK economy is more than £20bn3, Astex is pleased to join Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst in this exciting initiative for tackling the burden of neurodegenerative disease in the aging population.'


1 AHSC Technology Transfer Organisations involved are Cambridge Enterprise, Imperial Innovations Ltd, King’s Business, UCL Business, University of Manchester Intellectual Property, and Isis Innovations (Oxford University)

2 Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst and MIMIT launch Open Innovation Challenge in Neurodegenerative Disease

3 Data from Alzheimer's Research UK

For more information, please contact:

Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst
Martino Picardo, CEO
+44 (0)1438 906906
Emma Palmer Foster, Strategic Communications Consultant
+44 (0)7880 787185

Notes for Editors

About Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst

Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst is the UK’s first open innovation bioscience campus, pioneering a unique culture to drive early stage bioscience technology and company development, and building a thriving community. It is backed by £38m of funding from its founding partners – GlaxoSmithKline, the Wellcome Trust, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board) and the former East of England Development Agency. Consisting of an Incubator, an Accelerator and a Hub, covering 60,000 sq ft of laboratory, office and networking space, the independent facility houses a range of companies, from virtual and start-up firms to those which are more established, as well as other organisations. Co-located on the GlaxoSmithKline Stevenage site, Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst is in the unique position of operating in proximity to the expertise and resources of a major pharmaceutical company, close to both London and Cambridge. For more information, please go to

About Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst's stakeholders

Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst's stakeholders are GlaxoSmithKline (, the Wellcome Trust (, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (, Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board; and the former East of England Development Agency (

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