Pfizer and Belgium’s UCB have set up a new company, along with the UK Government’s Technology Strategy Board, which will aim to speed up the drug discovery process.

The firms say that Cyclofluidic will be “a breakthrough technology company” which will allow researchers to “test a greater range of potential new medicines in a shorter time”. It will develop technologies, notably a “microfluidic closed loop lead optimisation platform”, that automate and integrate flow chemistry and biology to help shorten drug development timelines.

The new entity, which will be located in the south of England will be jointly owned by Pfizer and UCB, with each company having both a seat and scientific observer rights on the board. The Technology Strategy Board will co-fund the venture, and the latter’s chief executive Iain Gray said that Cyclofluidic is “an excellent example of the private and public sectors working together to develop world-leading technologies which have the potential to bring enormous benefit to patients in the UK and around the world”.

Neil Weir, senior vice president of research at UCB, said that Cyclofluidic’s entry into the “rapidly evolving microfluidic technology area has the potential to radically transform the medicinal chemistry and biology interface”. He added that the venture “offers real potential for improved productivity”.

Peter Luke, senior director of worldwide business development at Pfizer said the firm is “impressed by the way the Technology Strategy Board has initiated a novel and creative deal structure.” Annette Doherty, research head at the drug giant’s European R&D headquarters in Sandwich, said she was excited by the potential of this new partnership “to help us identify the most effective medicines for later stages of development”.