Queen Mary University London - Supporting cutting edge life science businesses

Support from the Queen Mary BioEnterprises (QMB) Innovation Centre helped pharmaceutical business Open Orphan become a global leader in the testing of vaccines and antiviral treatments through the use of human challenge clinical trials.

QMB was developed by Queen Mary University of London (QM) in partnership with the London Development Agency in response to a growing demand for bioscience incubation space within London. It was London's first completely new build facility for both early and late-stage chemistry and biology startups, providing businesses with access to 39,000 sq ft of laboratory and office space. QMB is also home to the Queen Mary University Enterprise Zone, a new facility which offers flexible, modern workspace and bespoke training packages for Digital Health, MedTech and AI start-ups in East London.

QM spin out hVIVO, which merged with Open Orphan in 2020, moved to QMB in 2011 with access to the new facilities enabling significant growth. Over the last decade, the UK workforce increased from around 50 employees to more than 150 workers delivering a cutting-edge clinical trial platform. QMUL and its venture capital partner provided key investment in 2011 and since then the company successfully listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2012, raising significant external investment.

Open Orphan is pioneering viral challenge study models that are supporting the development of vaccines to illnesses such as flu, asthma and COPD. In October 2020, the company signed a £10m contract with the UK government to develop the world’s first human challenge studies for Covid-19 to boost our understanding of the efficacy of vaccines and antiviral medications.

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