Evotec brings early stage accelerator model to Israel

The project connects Evotec to a university that discovered Novartis and Merck drugs. (Evotec)

Evotec has expanded its model for accelerating early-stage academic research to Israel. The creation of the latest outpost of the BRIDGE model sees Evotec team up with Integra Holdings and Yissum to help researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem translate their work.

Since creating LAB282 with the University of Oxford late in 2016, Evotec has established five similar ventures, including the Israeli collaboration it unveiled this week. The specifics of each venture are different, but they all entail the application of Evotec’s drug discovery platform to research projects, typically in collaboration with one or more academic institutions and investment groups.

LAB555, the name of the Israeli project, hews closely to that model. Yissum will serve as the bridge into academia, leveraging its status as the technology transfer company of the Hebrew University to bring promising projects to LAB555. Integra Holdings, a VC fund created by Yissum, will support the financial side of the operation.

By pairing these existing Israeli resources with Evotec’s capabilities, the collaborators hope to support the advancement of multiple academic research projects. The goal is to get projects up to the point that they have the data needed to justify commercial R&D, enabling the team to form a spinout and raise money for further development. 

None of the parties involved in the collaboration have shared financial details of the arrangement. When Evotec set up LAB282, Oxford Sciences Innovation put up £13 million ($17 million) to fund research. The amount handed out in a single round was initially capped at £250,000, but the ceiling was subsequently raised to £500,000.

In Israel, the money will support work at a university with a long history of discovering drugs that go on to become key products for biopharma companies. Exelon, an Alzheimer’s drug sold by Novartis, originated at the Hebrew University, as did Doxil, a chemotherapy drug also known as Caelyx that Merck and Johnson & Johnson shared the rights to. 

Under the leadership of former Alcobra CEO Yaron Daniely, Yissum has sought to further tighten its ties to industry. The arrangement with Evotec advances that strategy with a view to helping more projects advance out of academia.