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Novo Nordisk has entered a partnership with Evotec to kickstart a drug discovery accelerator called LAB eN² that will combine the expertise of both companies.

LAB eN² will provide funding, technology, and scientific knowledge to advance the translation of pre-clinical ideas from academic institutions into innovative therapeutics.

Four academic institutions have signed on to take part, namely Harvard University, Mass General Brigham, Yale University and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre.

The objective of the accelerator is to help guide ideas from the selected institutions and push product concepts through preclinical proof of concept, where Novo Nordisk will select candidates for further development.

The collaboration will build on the strengths of both companies by combining Evotec’s drug discovery and pre-clinical development expertise with Novo Nordisk’s capabilities in therapeutics, clinical research, and commercial operations.

The partnership will focus on unmet needs in the cardiometabolic space, as well as rare blood and endocrine disorders. On 26 September, Novo Nordisk announced an agreement with Valo Health for the development of new drugs to treat cardiometabolic diseases. Valo will receive $60m upfront from Novo Nordisk in the partnership, as well as $2.7bn in potential milestone payments for up to 11 programmes.

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Evotec EVP and head of academic partnerships Thomas Hanke said: “We are confident that LAB eN² will accelerate promising and innovative therapeutic concepts from bench to bedside in disease areas with significant unmet need.”

The academic institutions involved will operate based on a shared governance framework, developed collaboratively by Harvard, Mass General Brigham and Yale University. Novo Nordisk’s Bio Innovation Hub, a research and development unit in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will be the development site for the research concepts selected for LAB eN² support.

Novo Nordisk’s Bio Innovation Hub head Uli Stilz said: “With the launch of LAB eN² and our collaboration with these institutions, there is a tremendous opportunity to address this longstanding gap and help move innovative science forward and seek to make a significant impact on people living with chronic conditions.”