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Saving lives by lowering the cost of drug development


Drug discovery is only the first step in developing a new medicine.

After a promising treatment is identified, the pharmaceutical industry must work out how to manufacture the drug at scale while also testing it to ensure it is safe. Sometimes, potentially life-saving treatments are overlooked because it is too expensive to develop them.

The firm’s efficient business model can cut the cost of developing treatments for diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

Drug know-how

BGF introduced the firm to Mike Hudson, co-founder of Neuropharm, who now serves as non-executive chair.

BGF Talent Network  

Under one roof

Pharmaceutical company Arcinova, based in Alnwick, Northumberland, is trying to tackle this problem. “Our focus is to look at how to make new drugs more effectively, using more direct manufacturing processes that dramatically change the cost,” explains founder, Professor Ian Shott.

Arcinova does this by bringing much of the drug creation process under one roof. “We work out how to make the drugs, formulate that into a dose that a patient can take, and we analyse the effects of the drug on a sample of patients,” Shott explains.

“There are very few competitors that can do all three things. The ability for us to compare notes for one part of the process to inform another part, means we get to the right solution quicker and that gives us a definite edge.”

BGF's investment has helped Arcinova to...

Increase its investment in a major continuous technology project with Nottingham University.

Invest in equipment, infrastructure and people in the UK and overseas.

‘Huge failure rate’

Established in 2015, Arcinova has found that by specialising in specific areas, such as oncology, the company is able to go toe-to-toe with the established pharmaceutical companies. “There is a huge failure rate in drug development and the big companies carry large overheads which makes it difficult for them to be competitive,” explains Shott. “This is opening up the market for smaller and medium-sized companies that have specialisations.”

Arcinova’s pioneering strategy is working. The company is already collaborating closely with a customer to post a patent on an oncology drug. Over the next three years, it intends to expand its workforce from 100 to 300 and move from a turnover of £4 million to £45 million.

We ensure that everyone, from our most elevated scientists to the cleaners, understand and feel motivated by the strategy of the business.

Professor Ian Shott, CEO of Arcinova


Invested by BGF in 2018 to fund innovation and global expansion.

Enthusiasm, consistency

According to Shott, its employees are an important part of the company’s success. “We ensure that everyone, from our most elevated scientists to the cleaners, understand and feel motivated by the strategy of the business. The feedback we get is that people are astounded by the enthusiasm and consistency of the staff in their search for better solutions.”

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