The Impact, Innovation and Technology award
winners from Drug Discovery 2019

Drug Discovery has become the largest meeting of life sciences industry professionals in the UK. This year, the two-day event brought together over 1300 delegates and more than 100 exhibiting companies from around the world to discuss the latest scientific breakthroughs and learn about the newest cutting-edge technologies.

By bringing together scientists and technology developers to exchange ideas and information, ELRIG aims to help foster drug discovery advancements. Great progress is being made in many areas across the whole biopharma sector thanks to researchers who are committed to pushing the boundaries to ultimately improve patients’ lives. It’s not only established researchers who are actively contributing to this field, early career professionals (ECPs) are also having a real impact.

Therefore, for the first time, an ELRIG ECP Impact Award, sponsored by SelectScience was presented. After much consideration and deliberation assessing many worthy candidates, the award was given to Thomas Fleming from Arctoris. Thomas is a cancer researcher and Fellow of the Royal Commission of 1851 at the University of Oxford. Having unique insights in drug discovery, including all steps from target identification and high-throughput screens to lead optimisation, Thomas Co-Founded Arctoris to enable scientists and biotech entrepreneurs worldwide to make discoveries more efficiently and enjoy accelerated progress in their research so they can find new cures faster.

“Having worked in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 20 years, seeing the next-generation of scientists come through is very exciting,” commented Del Trezise, ELRIG Board Member and Leader of the ECP work group. “We were honoured to present Thomas with this award. It’s incredible to see the impact he’s already having on the industry, and we have no doubt that he, and the Arctoris team, will help drive many drug discovery developments.”


Thomas Fleming, COO of Arctoris (centre), receiving the Impact Award from Ariff Butt, CEO of SelectScience (left) and Del Trezise, ELRIG Board Member (right).

As well as scientists, ELRIG actively looks to acknowledge innovative technology developments that help make advancing drug discovery possible. The dedicated Innovation Zone at the event provides up-and-coming companies with new technologies or services access to a major event and critical exposure to the market. This year, the calibre of the companies in the Innovation Zone was second to none, which made selecting the winner of the ELRIG Innovation Award particularly challenging.

The award for innovation is exclusive to the exhibitors in the Innovation Zone to help encourage the development of novel technologies from new companies. This year, the judges granted the award to ScreenIn3D, a start-up company founded by Michele Zagoni and Alex Sim in 2018. ScreenIn3D utilises the latest advances in microfluidics and 3D culture to develop a unique microfluidic screening platform. The ability to micro size drug-cell interactions will allow pharmaceutical and biotech companies to do 100x more testing for the same money and increase productivity.

Steve Rees, ELRIG Chairman and Vice-President of Discovery Biology at AstraZeneca explained, “We were very proud to present the ELRIG Innovation Award to ScreenIn3D. This is a fantastic technology that has direct application in target discovery including screening CRISPR libraries to identify novel drug targets, combination screening in discovery, and determining treatment regimes in the clinic. These attributes were very fitting to this award and demonstrates true innovation within the Drug Discovery space. We wish Screenin3D much continued success and look forward to seeing them at many more ELRIG events.”

Michele Zagoni, CSO of ScreenIn3D (left) accepting the Innovation Award from Paul Kendall, ELRIG board member (right). 

In addition to the Innovation Zone, there are many technologies also on show in the main exhibition hall, and each year, the ELRIG team is excited by the progress they enable scientists working in drug discovery to make. The ELRIG Technology Prize was awarded to ensure more established companies are also recognised for their continued dedication to providing scientists with the tools they need to make a difference.

Twist Bioscience received this year’s Technology Prize, having created a revolutionary silicon-based DNA synthesis platform that offers precision at a scale otherwise unavailable to pharmaceutical companies and biotechs. The platform significantly increases gene synthesis throughput and scalability, while reducing turnaround time and price per base, as well as enabling the production of multiple product lines including Twist Oligo Pools, which are high a diverse collection of single-stranded oligonucleotides that can be used in many applications including peptide screens and high-throughput reporter assays.

Chris Thorne, Regional Marketing Manager for Twist Bioscience (left) accepting the Technology Award from Drug Discovery 2019 Conference Director Tim Hammonds (right). 

“It’s fantastic to see companies from all over the world showcase their products and services at Drug Discovery,” said Sanj Kumar, ELRIG General Manager and CBO at Atelerix Ltd. “Without organisations developing progressive tools, scientists wouldn’t be able to continue to push the boundaries of drug discovery. We were delighted to present the Technology Prize to Twist Bioscience as they help scientists in medicine, as well as agriculture and industrial chemicals, to develop products that will ultimately improve lives and the sustainability of the planet. Preparations for next year’s event are already underway, and I can’t wait to see our winners in 2020.”

Drug Discovery 2020 will take place at the ExCeL, London, on the 6-7 October. If you would like to enter for your chance to win an award at next year’s event, click here.