Cancer Research UK's commercial arm, Cancer Research Technology, (CRT), and the European Investment Fund (EIF) have created a £50m investment fund bridging a funding gap between cancer drug discovery and early development.
The CRT Pioneer Fund will take potential cancer drugs from discovery through to entry to Phase II clinical trials.
CRT and the EIF will make equal contributions to the fund.
Dr Keith Blundy, CEO of Cancer Research Technology, said: "The gap has appeared because investment from industry has moved away from early stage discovery and there's less funding for small biotechnology firms who previously helped bridge the gap between academia and pharmaceutical companies.
"This important investment means we can take forward the most innovative approaches using our in-house drug discovery and development capabilities, to progress promising treatments from the lab all the way to clinical trials, translating our world-class scientific research into new treatments more quickly."
In order be capital efficient the CRT Pioneer Fund will primarily follow a licensing model rather than creating companies.
At least two thirds of the fund will be used to develop scientific discoveries made by Cancer Research UK scientists.
This may include projects within CRT's Discovery Laboratories, the Institute of Cancer Research's Cancer Therapeutics Unit, Cancer Research UK's Paterson and Beatson Institutes, and Newcastle University.
The remaining projects may come from other academic groups or industry in the UK. CRT will re-invest its share of any profits derived from the fund in Cancer Research UK's life-saving research.