BRIDGE – a new paradigm to translate early-stage drug discovery from Academia to Pharma

  • We are pursuing a new project incubation paradigm to accelerate research and early development
  • We are placing technological validation of a novel therapeutic approach in the centre of the value proposition
  • We are developing an integrated framework from academic research to clinical Proof of Concept involving all key partners
  • We have defined a new formula for fast-track early-stage drug development
  • BRIDGE (Biomedical Research, Innovation & Development Generation Efficiency) is an integrated fund and award framework to tap into exciting academic science to generate partnerships with Pharma and biotech

From academic concept to commercial reality: How to accelerate trans lational drug discovery

With eleven active partnerships in place, Evotec’s BRIDGEs have become a globally leading pre-seed accelerator initiative.

Alongside operational BRIDGE-building, our team has also been reflecting conceptually on the challenges and best practices in accelerating the transition from an academic starting point in drug discovery to an investable proof of concept. Key thoughts are now summarised in a White Paper mini-series entitled ‘From academic concept to commercial reality: How to accelerate translational drug discovery’.

In three chapters we will share openly our insights and views to inspire a continued dialogue between academic researchers, investors, and biotech and pharma colleagues on how to build an even more robust translational community and – together, for medicines that matter - develop new first-in-class therapies and platforms.

The opening segment, titled ‘Is academic research a valid source of novel medicines?’, introduces the topic and establishes the groundwork for a comprehensive understanding.

Chapter 1, titled ‘Finding a winning formula to lower barriers for academic researchers’ considers the incentives and disincentives faced by academic researchers who consider setting their early discoveries on the pathway to translation, starting with the role of academic culture. 

Chapter 2, titled ‘Source. Plan. Invest. Execute. Navigating the tough roadmap of pre-seed therapeutics investment’ summarises how novel partnership structures and operating models, illustrated by reference to our various BRIDGEs, are needed to overcome key hurdles for the VC community and pharmaceutical companies in accessing and de-risking pre-seed/pre-PoC translational projects from academia.

We hope you find the reading insightful and enjoyable.
Stay tuned for chapter 3.



In October 2022, Evotec announced the launch of Extend, a translational BRIDGE in cooperation with CDP Venture Capital Sgr and Angelini Ventrues, the Corporate Venture arm of the multi-business industrial group Angelini Industries.

The Milan-based joint venture will develop translational drug discovery partnerships with renowned universities and research centres in Italy. Extend aims to use Evotec’s best-in-class technology platforms to accelerate the translation of academic innovation into robust and investable data points and Angelini Ventures’ network and knowledge of the life science sector to launch successful new companies.

The partnership brings together several academic institutions with strong track records in life science innovation from across Italy: Ospedale San Raffaele in Milan, the Universities of Milan, Florence, Modena and Reggio Emilia, Padua, Sapienza in Rome, the regional research district of Puglia through H-Bio and the Human Technopole.

To learn more about Extend, please visit

Danube Labs

In June 2021, CEBINA GmbH, Central European Biotech Incubator and Accelerator, announced the launch of Danube Labs, a partnership with Evotec to fast-track early-stage academic research to drug discovery and development. The joint project, financed by a dedicated group of private investors, will identify, and develop academic projects from Central and Eastern Europe into mature therapeutic product development opportunities, primed for biotech company formation or partnering. Danube Labs aims to create up to 8 new biotech companies over 4 years, and is supported by CEBINA Bridge Capital Limited, a private fund established in Gibraltar and committed to providing a minimum investment of € 10 m.

For further information on Danube Labs, please visit


In May 2021, Evotec announced the launch of beLAB1407 in collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb. beLAB1407 is a new $ 20 m academic BRIDGE to identify and advance novel and breakthrough drug discovery opportunities across therapeutic areas from the UK’s top-tier academic institutions.

Through a unique combination of Evotec’s drug discovery and development platforms and early-stage therapeutic concepts from the Universities of Birmingham, Edinburgh, Nottingham, and Dundee, beLAB1407 offers a unique route to the advancement of first-in-class therapeutics and the creation of spin-out companies.

In November 2023, beLAB1407 was expanded to include the Universities of Bristol and Glasgow as well as Queen Mary University of London.

For further information on beLAB1407, please visit


In April 2021, Evotec announced the launch of beLAB2122, a translational $ 20 million BRIDGE in collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb. beLAB2122 brings together leading academic institutions from the Rhine-Main-Neckar region of Germany with the goal of efficiently advancing first-in-class therapeutic options across all therapeutic areas and formats into investable drug discovery and early development projects. 

Mediated and supported by BioRN, the Life Science Cluster Rhein Neckar, beLAB2122 for the first time brings together the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (“EMBL”), the German Cancer Research Center (“DKFZ”), the Goethe University Frankfurt, Heidelberg University and the University of Tübingen in one collaboration with industry partners.

For further information on beLAB2122, please visit

Autobahn Labs

In June 2020, Evotec announced the launch of “Autobahn Labs”, a novel virtual incubator, together with Samsara BioCapital, a leading life sciences investment firm and KCK Ltd., a family investment fund. Based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, Autobahn Labs will be partnering with top academic and research institutions to catalyse early-stage drug discovery and development.

Also in June 2020, Autobahn Labs announced a first-in-kind strategic collaboration with UCLA Technology Development Group (“UCLA TDG”) to identify and advance the most promising areas of scientific research with the greatest potential for patient therapies.

In December 2020, Autobah Labs announced a strategic collaboration with the University of California San Francisco ("UCSF") to identify promising early science and form new, jointly owned ventures.

For further information on Autobahn Labs, please visit


In September 2017, Evotec and Toronto Innovation Acceleration Partners ("TIAP", formerly MaRS Innovation) announced the launch of "LAB150". This transformational Toronto-based partnership will give Canadian academic institutions and teaching hospitals access to the world-class infrastructure and drug discovery expertise of Evotec and pair it with cutting-edge drug discovery projects emerging from the 15 member institutions of TIAP.

A crucial lack of the funding, specialised infrastructure and drug development expertise necessary to translate disease-related biological pathways into focused drug discovery programmes has been a persistent hindrance for promising biomedical research to reach clinical development and the marketplace in Canada and globally. LAB150 addresses precisely this challenge. The goal of this new partnership is to significantly shorten the drug discovery timeline and to generate viable start-up companies with high potential for success.

TIAP will identify projects and build technical and business cases from scientific concepts that focus on first-in-class and disease-related novel biological pathways. Evotec will contribute infrastructure and pre-clinical drug development expertise to translate such discoveries into potential medicines.

After identifying the first discovery project in February 2018 already, in October 2018 TIAP announced the identification of a second project to be developed under the LAB150 partnership. In a release from February 2019, TIAP announced that two more LAB150 projects were identified. A fifth and sixth project were announced in releases from June 2019, and December 2019, respectively.

For further information, visit the LAB150 website or read this article on the results and experiences of the first 18 months since the inception of the BRIDGE partnership.


In November 2016, Evotec announced a novel strategic partnership with the University of Oxford, Oxford University Innovation Ltd, OUI (the university's research commercialisation company) and Oxford Sciences Innovation, OSI (the world's largest IP investment company dedicated to a single university) aimed at accelerating the translation of basic biomedical research from Oxford into new therapeutics. Projects will be sourced exclusively from Oxford University researchers via OUI across any therapeutic area and for any therapeutic modality and will be aided by a drug discovery expert in residence seconded by Evotec to the LAB282 initiative and embedded in the university.

"LAB282" will be supported by a fund of ₤ 13 m (over EUR 14 m) led by OSI for an initial period of three years. The goal is to accelerate the achievement of pre-clinical proof of concept for new drugs and to generate new spin-out companies. The development of new treatments and cures for serious and debilitating diseases will help patients live longer and better lives as well as reduce the burden on global healthcare systems.

Evotec will exclusively contribute its drug discovery expertise and platforms to select projects and develop them further. Evotec will be entitled to equity in new LAB282 spin-out companies together with Oxford University and its academic researchers and together with OSI will have the right to co-invest in seed financing rounds.

Here you can find more information about Lab282

Contact us

Dr Thomas Hanke

EVP, Head of Academic Partnerships

T +49 (0)17 13 55 43 74 F +49 (0)40 56 08 12 22 vCard