The University of Cambridge is hooking up with drug giant GlaxoSmithKline under a programme of open collaboration designed to help speed the discovery and development of new medicines.

The University is sending a group of its researchers to work alongside GSK and scientists from other organisations at Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC), the UK’s first open innovation bioscience campus, which sits alongside the drugmaker's R&D hub.

Set up in 2009, the campus provides a platform for 'independent' scientists to build relationships without the need for exclusive arrangements between stakeholders, the idea being that removing constraints of commercial secrecy will help accelerate success.

As such, those based at the park share access to specialist skills, scientific equipment and expertise, to stimulate innovation and speed up the discovery and development process.

Under the move, small teams of Cambridge scientists will freely interact with other pharmaceutical biotech, contract research organisations, SBC tenants and academic institutions, under what Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, describes as "a highly innovative way to develop publicly funded scientific research to create new medicines to treat disease, bringing together partners with shared goals and capitalising on what each does best". 

The move is yet another illustration of the growing closeness between pharma and academia, as companies strive to breathe new life into drug discovery.

For example, in May, GSK linked with Yale University under an alliance building on the latter's pioneering work with so-called proteolysis targeting chimeric molecules, while last year it formed a unique pact with AstraZeneca and the University of Manchester to work on inflammation research and translational medicine.