European screening centre; unique library for attractive biology


In the early stages of drug discovery, scientists screen large numbers of chemical compounds in the hunt for potential new drugs or other interesting molecules that could be used in drug development. Accessing large, high quality compound collections for this is a challenge; IMI’s European Lead Factory project, which ran from 2013 to 2018, set up a collection of over half a million compounds and a state-of-the-art high throughput screening centre that gave a massive boost to drug discovery programmes in universities, small biotechs and large companies across Europe.

The aim of the ESCulab project is to build on the achievements of the European Lead Factory. This means that researchers with drug targets can apply to have their target screened free of charge against the project’s compound collection and get help developing any resulting hits further if they like. In total, ESCulab plans to run 185 new drug discovery projects during its lifetime. In the long term, the screening centre should become self-sustaining so that it can continue to provide these valuable services after the project has finished.

Achievements & News

Got questions about the European Lead Factory? Join their weekly Q and A sessions!

The European Lead Factory comprises a collection of over half a million compounds and a state-of-the-art high throughput screening centre. Scientists in universities, small biotechs and large companies can apply to access the European Lead Factory’s resources to advance their own medical research and drug development programmes.###

The next deadline for submitting a screening proposals is 4 September 2020. To help people who are planning to submit a proposal, the project is organising weekly Q&A sessions with the project’s programme office and assay transfer teams. The online sessions take place every Thursday afternoon at 16:00 CET (Central European Time). The first session is on Thursday 30 July.

Find out more


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EFPIA companies
  • Astrazeneca AB, Södertälje, Sweden
  • Bayer Aktiengesellschaft, Leverkusen, Germany
  • Grunenthal GMBH, Aachen, Germany
  • Institut De Recherches Servier, Suresnes, France
  • Janssen Pharmaceutica Nv, Beerse, Belgium
  • Merck Kommanditgesellschaft Auf Aktien, Darmstadt, Germany
  • Sanofi-Aventis Deutschland GMBH, Frankfurt / Main, Germany
  • UCB Biopharma, Brussels, Belgium
Universities, research organisations, public bodies, non-profit groups
  • University Of Dundee, Dundee, United Kingdom
  • University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-sized companies (<€500 m turnover)
  • Bioascent Discovery Limited, Newhouse, United Kingdom
  • Edelris SAS, Lyon, France
  • Pivot Park Screening Centre BV, Oss, Netherlands
  • Stichting Lygature, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • Sygnature Discovery Limited, Nottingham, United Kingdom
  • Symeres Netherlands BV, Nijmegen, Netherlands
  • Taros Chemicals GMBH & Co Kg, Dortmund, Germany
Associated partners
  • Mmv Medicines For Malaria Venture Fondation, genevra, Switzerland

NameEU funding in €
Bioascent Discovery Limited6 475 450
Edelris SAS292 600
Pivot Park Screening Centre BV7 128 756
Stichting Lygature1 434 944
Sygnature Discovery Limited292 600
Symeres Netherlands BV585 200
Taros Chemicals GMBH & Co Kg292 600
University Of Dundee1 256 613
University of Oxford491 230
Total Cost18 249 993