Medicines Discovery Catapult

Medicines Discovery Catapult
Biggest diagnostic lab network ever in British history rapidly established to scale-up coronavirus testing procedures and support the national effort against the COVID-19 pandemic
Vaccine development laboratory

The Medicines Discovery Catapult represents one of the nine members of the Catapult network, established and overseen by Innovate UK to transform the UK’s capability for innovation. 

Based in Alderley Park, Cheshire, the Medicines Discovery Catapult connects academic and industry researchers with laboratory facilities, expertise and networks to promote innovations in medicines research and development.

Through combining technology, people and equipment, the Medicines Discovery Catapult has played a pivotal role in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, providing industrial testing capacity at an unprecedented scale and pace for the National Health Service (NHS) via the Lighthouse Labs network.

The Lighthouse Labs network represents a collection of diagnostic laboratories responsible for the analysis of COVID-19 swab samples from across the country, including both NHS and temporary testing sites, such as the COVID-19 drive-through testing centres.

Through harnessing automated technologies and high-throughput screening, the Lighthouse Labs network operates round the clock, analysing tens of thousands of swab samples every day.

The network is formed from a partnership between the Medicines Discovery Catapult, Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), UK Biocentre and the University of Glasgow, with further support from other organisations including the NHS and Public Health England.

The Lighthouse Labs network is based across four sites, including:

  • Cheshire, led by the Medicines Discovery Catapult at the Bruntwood SciTech campus at Alderley Park
  • Milton Keynes, located at and managed by the UK Biocentre
  • Glasgow, led by the University of Glasgow at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus
  • Cambridge, let by a collaboration between the University of Cambridge, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline at the Anne McLaren laboratory

To find out more about the work of the Catapult Network, please visit