Cambridge partners with Lilly in Open Innovation Drug Discovery Platform


The University of Cambridge is partnering with global pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Company in an active collaboration programme helping to find and develop potential new medicines, particularly in the areas of greatest need.

Over 60 European institutions have so far joined the initiative, called the Open Innovation Drug Discovery Platform.

The initiative aims to foster top talent in medical discovery, catering for the significant challenges researchers face in the current environment across Europe. The project is designed to tackle barriers to innovation, where cost-pressures, cutbacks and lack of resource pose risks to ongoing research and development.

“I think of Open Innovation Drug Discovery as a platform consisting of multiple superhighways all pointed towards the final destination of discovering novel medicines that we believe have the potential to improve patients’ lives,” said Alan D Palkowitz, PhD, vice president of discovery chemistry research and technologies, Lilly.

“These superhighways connect scientists from all over the world with Lilly, for the common goal of finding new treatments for diseases where patients are in need and looking for answers, such as cancer, diabetes and MDR-TB (multi-drug resistant tuberculosis).”

“Our mission at Lilly is to help people live longer, healthier lives,” said Jan Lundberg, PhD, executive vice president, science and technology, and president, Lilly Research Laboratories. “In doing so, we look for where there is a need and forge ahead within our own labs and through partnerships. In that spirit, we recognize that there are many untapped sources of ideas and molecules outside of Lilly that would otherwise go unnoticed without initiatives like this one that advance science.”

“This programme has the potential to provide important short and longer-term benefits to Cambridge researchers,” said Dr Emma Barker of Cambridge Enterprise, the University’s commercialisation group, which will manage the agreement.

“The access to Lilly’s sophisticated in vitro model systems, as well as the potential for future collaborations and licences with the goal of discovering new therapeutics, makes these types of initiatives very important.”

Designed to minimise obstacles and benefit continued research that supplements the innovation of Lilly’s scientists, the new platform – accessed via a secure website: – offers researchers working in universities, hospitals and other academic institutions an opportunity to use Lilly’s innovative research and development capacity to evaluate compounds in development as potential new medicines.

Other participating universities, biotechs and research institutes are located in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.


Cambridge Enterprise exists to help University of Cambridge inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs make their ideas and concepts more commercially successful for the benefit of society, the UK economy, the inventors and the University.

Cambridge Enterprise, University of Cambridge