Please note that a more comprehensive Q&A in the form of an ‘applicant briefing document’ is currently being prepared, and will be available from this site in due course. In the meantime, specific questions should be addressed to your local representative of the Apollo Imperial Management group (see contacts above) who will guide you through the process for applying and answer your questions.
Presented below are some quick Q&As that cover some straightforward questions:
Apollo is intended for Imperial College or associate NHS trust staff who wish to progress early stage therapeutic innovations through discovery and into pre-clinical development. Academic staff at Imperial College London, University College London and the University of Cambridge may apply for funding through Apollo. Your application can involve co-applicants from other organisations as long as you are the primary applicant.
Apollo will allocate funding amounts on a per-project basis. There is no formal minimum or maximum range for the amount for which you may apply and all funding decisions ultimately lie with the Apollo Investment Committee.
It is anticipated that some projects could be progressed with a smaller amount of investment (in the region of £150,000) which would be focused on a key experiment to de-risk the technology, prior to returning to Apollo and seeking more significant funding. However, other, probably more advanced projects are likely require a more significant sum to be invested from the beginning (e.g. £3.0m)
No. Apollo has been set-up to fund the preclinical development of new therapeutics. It is expected that a proportion of any project funding will come to your lab to fund those elements where your academic expertise and local resources are vital. However, some elements (for example, but not limited to: chemical synthesis, toxicology or GMP manufacture) may be outsourced to contract organisations and the funding will flow directly to such organisations from Apollo. The DDT can advise on how the contracting side and flow of information will be handled for each project. Remember, you retain the right to opt-out prior to contract signing so if you are not ultimately comfortable with the proposal then you do not have to proceed.
Apollo is effectively run as an open funding call, with no closing dates or application windows. Apollo is projected to invest in projects over a 6-8 year period, and applications may be made until such time as Apollo closes for new investments.
There are many translational funding schemes that represent valuable sources of funding for researchers. Apollo is aimed specifically at providing the sort of investment required to convert scientifically interesting projects into more advanced and substantially de-risked development projects, increasing the chances of achieving clinical impact. Another key difference is the benefit researchers will receive from the commercial expertise of a dedicated drug discovery team within Apollo, made up of ex-industry scientists.
Apollo Therapeutics' founders believe that there are more good ideas than there is translational funding available and (crucially) such ideas would benefit from earlier engagement and expert assistance from industry scientists.
No. Academic staff at Imperial are under no obligation to show their projects to Apollo nor to apply for funding from it.
You may be approached by members of staff from the College, from Innovations or from the Apollo Drug Discovery team who may ask you if you wish to consider working with Apollo, but you can decide not to.
At any time, you are free to have a no-obligation, non-confidential discussion with the Apollo Drug Discovery Team about your project and see what Apollo can offer you, but you don’t have to apply if you don’t want to.
How does the application process work?
For a full application, the process from application to acceptance should take no longer than six months and in many cases, less than this. For smaller awards, a ‘lighter touch’ application process will be put in place.
The translational funding provided via schemes such as the MRC Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme and charitable translational awards such as the Wellcome Trust Health Innovation Challenge Fund represent an extremely valuable source of funding for researchers to help move early stage ideas towards the clinic.
Apollo funding is NOT intended to replace this type of funding. It offers an alternative to applicants that feel they would benefit from earlier engagement and expert assistance from industry scientists.
A detailed comparison of the different funding schemes available will be added to this site is due course.
Imperial College, UCL and the University of Cambridge are three of the world’s top ten universities and have long been global powerhouses with research outputs of the highest quality. This reflects their significant research funding but also their strong links to clinical practice through associated medical schools and NHS infrastructure. The university partners are also located along the M11 Cambridge-London ‘Bioscience Corridor’ which includes the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst and Cell Therapy Catapult. The industry partners have a rich heritage of collaboration and partnership with academia. Building on these established relationships the Apollo partners’ vision has been to integrate these combined strengths exactly at the interface where both industry and academia can benefit by nurturing the emerging opportunities.
Apollo Therapeutics is legally structured as a joint venture partnership between the parties. The partnership takes the form of an LLP incorporated under English law.
Not necessarily. Apollo Therapeutics will fund selected projects from any one of the three universities with each project evaluated on its own merits by an independent investment committee. It will provide translational funding on a project-by-project basis through to agreed pre-clinical milestones (e.g. lead optimisation, candidate selection, CTA submission).
The three universities will benefit from access to a substantial funding source dedicated to translating projects out of university labs through to early proof of concept – the sort of investment required to convert these scientifically interesting projects to more advanced and substantially de-risked development projects, maximising the chances of achieving clinical impact from their research base. In addition, through Apollo Therapeutics they will benefit from the commercial expertise of a dedicated drug discovery team of ex-industry scientists.
The three industry partners will actively participate in projects and, on a discretionary basis, may provide access to certain in-house expertise and know-how, as well as other resources where appropriate. This provides them with early visibility of projects as they move through discovery, the ability for them to shape their development, and confers to them the preferential rights to acquire and further shape the programmes using their own resources.
In addition to providing the bulk of the funding, the industry partners may, on a discretionary basis, provide access to their in-house experts, know-how and other additional resources to assist with the development and the commercial evaluation of projects. They are also the ideal partners to subsequently take on the further development of successful projects to make the next generation of successful medicines.
The Drug Discovery Team (DDT) will be based at the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst but will actively source projects locally at each of the universities through interaction with the academics and TTOs. DDT staff will spend much of their time face to face with researchers and managing projects at the originating institutes in Cambridge and London. Academics will not be expected to go to Stevenage.
The Apollo Investment Committee makes all investment decisions and comprises representatives from the six partners. Led by an independent Chairman, it has overall responsibility for the management and control of the business and affairs of the joint venture with the power and authority to take any decisions of the joint venture. The Chairman is Ian Tomlinson – former SVP Worldwide Business Development and BioPharmaceutical R&D for GSK, and founder/CSO of Domantis Ltd.
The CEO of Apollo Therapeutics is Dr Richard Butt. Prior to joining Apollo Therapeutics, Dr Butt spent 20 years at Pfizer where he worked in research and development. Most recently he was Senior Director and Research Project Leader, Clinical Research at Pfizer Neusentis within the Neuroscience and Pain Research Unit.
The Apollo Investment Committee makes all investment decisions and comprises representatives from the six partners. It will act as a combined strategy and investment committee for the joint venture. The Apollo Investment Committee will be responsible for agreeing project plans, investment amounts, and the terms of an out-licensing deal, or spin-outs, for any asset that receives Apollo Therapeutics funding.
A dedicated Drug Discovery Team (DDT), led by the Chief Executive Officer is responsible for reviewing potential projects and making recommendations to the Apollo Investment Committee for projects to be considered for funding. When the latter has decided to fund a project, the DDT will be responsible for overseeing, managing and leading the project. This team will be drawn from industry, will be independent of the universities and pharmaceutical partners, and will run the projects to established industry standards.
The DDT, led by the CEO will be responsible for delivering projects and in particular for:
A Scientific Advisory Board has been created from leading academic individuals from within each of the three universities with proven ability to identify and develop drugs that have originated from university research within the three Universities and highly experienced and entrepreneurial individuals from the industry partners. The Scientific Advisory Board will be responsible for reviewing and considering potential projects and projects that are being funded and in particular will assist and advise the Apollo Investment Committee on the scientific merits of the projects; it will advise on whether milestones have been achieved requiring the joint venture to advance further funding. Its role will be advisory or consulting in nature.
The TTOs will own all arising IP and will be responsible for coordinating the out-licensing activities of projects arising from their respective universities. The consent of the Apollo Investment Committee is required before any out-licensing deal can be agreed and completed.
In return for providing funding, Apollo Therapeutics will receive 50% of all future commercial revenues received upon the out-licensing of the funded assets, while the originating university and TTO will collectively receive the other 50% in return for providing the initial project. This is the same level of revenue share taken by the Welcome Trust for Seeding Drug Discovery awards and by Cancer Research technology for CRUK funded projects.
Yes. If a project is successfully completed then the three industry partners will each have the option of entering into a licence granting it rights to commercialise any intellectual property developed as part of the project on arms-length commercial terms.
Each industry partner may propose indicative terms following the completion of certain milestones as defined in the project plan for a specific project. These proposals are received by the Apollo Investment Committee and a decision is reached as to which, if any, proposal is suitable.
In cases where a particular industry partner is deemed to have provided particular assistance, know-how or resources to a project above and beyond that provided by the DDT then the Apollo Investment Committee may grant that industry partner priority rights to negotiate a licence.
Apollo Therapeutics is focussed on therapeutics (or platform technologies which may aid the development and identification of therapeutics) with a preference for the indications listed in the Project criteria page. In addition, any modality will be considered (e.g. small molecules, peptides, proteins, antibodies and gene/cell therapies). For example, Apollo Therapeutics may fund (but is not limited to) projects in the fields of Respiratory Illness, Inflammation, Oncology, Metabolic & Cardiovascular illness, Infectious Disease, Neuroscience and Rare diseases.
It will depend very much on the size and type of investment opportunities that arise. Projects will be selected to flow through Apollo during an investment period that will likely run for 6-8 years.
The DDT will be responsible for overseeing, managing and leading projects, taking advice from the Scientific Advisory Board to determine that pre-agreed milestones have been met.
Selected projects will receive funding in tranches to develop the assets to late stage preclinical validation. Projects will progress through a series of go/no go decision points to track projects success or failure at each stage.