Innovation Program Manager Christian Stevenson explains the basics of the Novel Molecule Challenge.
It is a fact that all corporate R&D labs will have some gaps in their molecular libraries. Their internal researchers try to fill in these gaps, but quickly find that synthesizing these compounds requires methods and materials not readily available in-house. But, more importantly, it also requires a lot of their time – filling in the called-for structures distracts internal researchers from testing their application hypotheses. And the irony is that the com¬pound needed could already exist – not in commercial catalogs but in small vials with hand-written labels and covered in scotch-tape. They are buried on shelves, in cabinets, and refrigerated storage areas all over the planet.
InnoCentive solves this problem. With the Novel Molecule Challenge we do all of the recruitment for you from within our global network of over 250,000 Solvers in more than 200 countries. University labs, custom synthesis houses and independent compound collectors are all included. Once you find a match, you pay only for the compounds that meet your needs.
Identify the Need: The first step in the process is to identify the gaps in your current collection and to develop a generic structure that describes the molecules you need. Keep in mind that the small reward for NMCs means that the general structure of the molecule should be known in the literature and/or relatively easily prepared without developing new chemistry. (For novel chemistry, try using our Theoretical or Reduction-to-Practice Challenge types.)
Post the Challenge: After working with me to define the structures you’re seeking, we engage two primary resources to find molecules for you. First, we immediately search our in-house database of libraries from our Solvers and other small chemical providers. Second, we post the Challenge to our website advertising your need. In addition to Solvers who have the compounds already in hand, some of our Solvers will offer to prepare molecules in their labs specifically in response to your Challenge.
In addition, you can choose to take advantage of our Fingerprinting technology, which masks the exact compound you need, but still provides enough information to determine whether it is the structure you seek. This protects you and the Solver, increases the number of unique molecules you can have access to, and keeps the IP transfer process clean.
Receive the Compounds: Following Challenge posting, InnoCentive works with you to evaluate the submissions (giving you a single file in SDF or Excel format with all the proposed structures) and track the status of Solvers’ submissions. You receive the compounds as well as characterization data and are allowed to confirm that data in your own lab. Once you’re satisfied the compounds are correct, InnoCentive pays out awards to the Solvers, then sends you a single invoice for all the compounds in the Challenge.