Imperial College London, UCL and Cambridge University have joined forces with three pharmaceutical firms to form the Apollo Therapeutics Fund.

Pharmaceutical firms AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Johnson & Johnson set up a £40m ($57m) commercialisation fund yesterday with the support of Imperial College London, University College London (UCL) and Cambridge University.

Johnson & Johnson joined the consortium through corporate venturing subsidiary Johnson & Johnson Innovation. The three universities are participating through their respective tech transfer offices (TTOs): Imperial Innovations, UCL Business and Cambridge Enterprise.

Each of the corporates has committed to invest £10m over the next six years, while the TTOs will each contribute £3.3m.

The initiative, dubbed Apollo Therapeutics Fund, aims to significantly speed up the commercialisation of university research in the medical field, focusing on the entire range of therapies across the sector from antibodies to gene therapies.

Apollo will help advance academic preclinical research to a level at which it can either be acquired by one of the three corporate investors through an internal bidding process or licensed to a third party.

The pharmaceutical companies will offer research and development support and other resources to help develop projects and evaluate their commercial potential.

The originating university and the respective tech transfer office will each be entitled to an undisclosed percentage of commercial revenues or licensing fees from successful projects, with the remainder split among the other partners.

Apollo’s advisory board will be made up of independent, former industry scientists who will assist the TTOs with the selection process.

The fund’s investment committee is chaired by Ian Tomlinson, formerly the senior vice-president for worldwide business development and biopharmaceuticals research and development at GSK, and includes representatives from all six partners.

Apollo is set to operate out of Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, a joint venture between GSK, the UK government’s Department for Business Innovation and Skills, the Wellcome Trust and Innovate UK.

– This article was first published by our sister site Global Corporate Venturing.