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The multi-partner COVID Moonshot consortium was a runner-up in the Innovation Enabled by Partnership category, which recognises and celebrates scientific innovation that has been enabled as a direct result of collaborative partnerships.

The UK Society of Chemical Industry (SCI)'s Innovation Award is for innovations across a variety of scientific business contexts and includes collaborative partnerships within a single organisation or stakeholders from different organisations, including academia. There were six finalists, and the award was presented at SCI’s annual awards dinner last week.

The COVID Moonshot initiative started as a spontaneous virtual collaboration in March 2020. With the help of more than 150 scientists, key compounds showing excellent antiviral activity against the main protease of SARS-CoV-2 were identified. These promising molecules are now in pre-clinical evaluation, with the consortium working to advance a compound to first in human studies in 2024.

The initiative is a collaborative effort of the Nuffield Department of Medicine; the University of Oxford; Compass Business Partners Ltd; Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative; Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; Diamond Light Source; MedChemica Ltd; PostEra; Weizmann Institute of Science; Enamine Ltd; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; and Thames Pharma Partners LCC.

Representing the COVID Moonshot team at the awards were Professor Frank von Delft, Professor of Structural Chemical Biology at NDM’s Centre for Medicines Discovery; Dr Annette von Delft, Translational Scientist at NDM’s Centre for Medicines Discovery; Dr Mark Calmiano, Principal Scientist, CADD at UCB and Dr Tetiana Matviuk from Enamine Ltd.

Announcing the finalists, Sharon Todd, SCI CEO said: ‘SCI is a global network of innovators, set up in 1881 by the prominent scientists and innovators of the day. Today our community is probably the largest scientific innovation community, investing over £30Bn each year in research. Every day scientists, engineers and business people are working to address some of the biggest challenges facing society and we wanted to recognise these often unsung heroes and heroines. The two new awards recognise industrial excellence in innovation through partnership and sustainability – both key drivers in global economic growth.’

Dr Delft said: ‘On behalf of the entire Moonshot consortium, we are very excited that the COVID Moonshot project has been recognised for its collaborative approach and commitment to open science. It shows that rather than impeding innovation, collaboration can be a driver for innovation. Our work built on that of all our collaborators, and because we chose not to patent our molecules, future innovations can build on ours.’

For more information on the project, visit