A record number of BioMedtech innovators and investors came face to face at Babraham Bioscience Technologies’ ninth Biotechnology Investment Forum. The event at Babraham Research Campus brought together 18 early-stage biomedical ventures from across the UK with more than 50 biotech-focused investor groups.More than 120 delegates attended the Forum, to hear cutting-edge biotech companies pitch their technology propositions for diverse innovative therapeutics or diagnostics for which they were aiming to attract funding of between £150k and £9 million.
Two keynote lectures were given by Professor Sir John Bell, FRS, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University and one of the UK Government life science champions, and also George Freeman MP, who is the life science adviser to the Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science.
John Bell highlighted some of the initiatives being introduced to support the UK bioscience sector such as the establishment of the Biomedical Catalyst Fund, and proposals to accelerate market approval for innovative and breakthrough therapies.
He said: “The expansion of life sciences at the Babraham site is a perfect example of how economic growth can be driven within a cluster. The site will undoubtedly prove to be one of Europe’s leading examples of academic commercial integration within a technology cluster.”
George Freeman added: “The Babraham Investment Forum is an increasingly important event in the life science calendar and this year’s is especially so. With four new early-stage venture funds recently raised, and the Government’s new Catalyst Fund for clinical proof of concept, and a spate of exits and major inward investment decisions from industry and the Government recently, the sector is enjoying a strong period.
“I know from my career in bio-venturing, before Parliament, what an important cluster Babraham is becoming.
“This year’s range of companies at BIF illustrates the breadth and depth of investment opportunities available to private and institutional investors and shows how vibrant the Eastern Region Bio-science cluster is becoming.”
This year’s technologies were as diverse as ever and included ventures pioneering; diagnostics for key unmet medical needs in infection and inflammatory diseases; therapeutics to tackle neurodegenerative diseases and malignant melanoma; drugs against infectious diseases; novel anti-inflammatory compounds against asthma and Inflammatory Bowel Disease; and a regenerative medicine company whose technology addresses a significant unmet need for the treatment of chronic diseases leading to organ failure.
Dr Steven Powell, of Gilde Healthcare Partners the Dutch based investment group commented: “The organisation, logistics and location were excellent and it was a highly efficient way of showcasing a diverse and broad range of emerging companies in a very short period of time.
“The ability to see so many companies in such a short period of time is particularly important for an overseas fund such as Gilde. BIF is also one of those rare conferences that achieved the ideal mix of corporates and investors – and service providers are at a minimum.”
BBT chief executive Derek Jones said the turnout and quality of participants exceeded a very successful event last year, with the largest number of companies, investors and delegates in the Forum’s history.
“Bringing together entrepreneurs and investors through events like this is key to the life sciences industry and we hope that the Forum will have played a part in leading to the financing of early-stage bio-ventures.”
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: BBT chief executive Derek Jones (left) with life science tsar, George Freeman