Cambridge MedChem Consulting

European Lead Factory

The European Lead Factory was established to promote the discovery of novel small molecule candidates, suitable for subsequent optimization either to drug candidates or to high‐quality pharmacological tools for the experimental validation of targets.

The EU Lead Factory is a unique public-private partnership that promotes new discoveries via open innovation and crowd sourcing. It is designed to provide best-in-class resources and funding-in-kind, to academics or SMEs who are working on promising biology targets or chemistry scaffolds

It consists of two facilities

Firstly a public compound collection, built from donations from Pharma partners but also synthesis of novel compounds, the aim is for a collection of 500,000 molecules.

The second facility provides ultrahigh throughput screening capabilities, together with cloud-based informatics tools for analysis and filtering.


For academic or small companies this is an interesting way to access a high-throughput screen, full details of the rewards and obligations if a project is accepted are detailed online.

There are some animations that describe the process in more details here.

I've now been involved in a number of projects that have made use of the ELF and I'm pretty happy with the results.

Here is a flyer describing the initiative in detail. A review of the ELF is now available here

Set up in 2013 it has already accepted 42 targets for screening, submitted by publicly funded researchers, and generated 12 Qualified Hit Lists.

The European Lead Factory (ELF) is a collaborative public-private partnership aiming to deliver novel lead molecules for drug discovery programs. When the consortium was formed around 5 years ago there was a lot of scepticism about whether a group of 30 partners rating from large Pharma companies to small academic groups could ever agree on a legal framework that would allow the ELF to function. In a addition, in an industry where confidentiality was critical to maintaining intellectual property the idea that a group of large Pharma companies would share their sample collections often regarded as the "Crown Jewels" seemed impossible. However I was at the European Lead factory Stakeholder Meeting (24-25 April 2017) and it is clear that is has been a success. Ream more…

Update (2 Jan 2018).

It has just been announced that the Joint European Compound Library (JECL) has now reached the target of 500,000 compounds.

So far, >180,000 novel compounds have been synthesised and the five library production partners Edelris, Mercachem, Sygnature, Syncom and Taros are well under way to deliver another ~20,000 compounds before the end of the project.

500k JECL Provenance

Only compounds meeting JECL quality criteria for purity (LC–MS purity >85%, average 97%) and quantity (>5 μmol, average 15 µmol) are added to JECL.

Last updated 3 January 2018