Champion Horizon a business with a heart
Gene editing world leader Horizon Discovery was named Business of the Year at the 25th Anniversary Business Weekly Awards dinner at Queens’ College, Cambridge on March 17.
It is the second time in recent years that Horizon has taken the major title but, given the international muscle of the leading contenders, this year’s achievement ranks as the most outstanding.
CEO Dr Darrin Disley (above, left) received the award from guest speaker Tony Purnell, head of technology development at British Cycling and immediately dedicated it to the inspirational Dr Geraldine Rodgers. He also revealed that Horizon and Dr Disley will fund a student each year on a new bioscience masters degree course at Cambridge University in her name. Geraldine died of lung cancer in January.
Dr Disley said: “Horizon would not have come into existence were it not for the courage of Geraldine, formerly business manager at the Institute of Biotechnology and then head of seed funds at Cambridge Enterprise.
“In March 2008, along with Dr Jonathan Milner (above, 2nd right), she backed a £150,000 investment into an orphan project where the technology did not come from the UK let alone Cambridge.
“Her past relationship with myself, dating back to 1992, led to my introduction to scientific founder Dr Chris Torrance (above, right) and the rest is history. All at Horizon would like to dedicate this win to her memory. We have agreed with the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology to create a new ‘full-ride’ scholarship to be awarded annually for study on the Masters in Bioscience Enterprise degree – a course Geraldine was instrumental in setting-up and was a passionate contributor to.
“The first scholar will be selected in the 2015/15 academic year and will target a candidate from an economically disadvantaged background. This is a fitting tribute to her memory and her penchant for backing the underdog that no one else would.”
Explaining to a packed audience of executives why Horizon took the major honours, Ian Mather (above, second left) of law firm Mills & Reeve said: “Horizon’s ambition is to become Cambridge’s biggest ever biotech company and they are certainly going about it in the right way. Horizon has become a world leader in gene editing tools and expertise and its global partnerships are helping to accelerate progress towards personalised medicines.
“Its March 2014 IPO was 6.5 times oversubscribed making it the largest float by a life science company from the local cluster. The IPO returned 32X for investors. Horizon grew 2014 revenues by more than 77 per cent year-on-year. Horizon’s market cap also rocketed 244 per cent in the year – from £45m to £155m and has since gone further north towards the £200m landmark.
“Horizon technology has been adopted by over 1,000 academic, biotech, diagnostic and pharma customers in more than 50 countries. During the year Horizon worked with 30 of the world’s top 50 pharmaceutical companies.”
Digital communications specialist Sepura won Business Weekly’s Cambridge Torchbearer Award for a business or person deemed to have raised Cambridge’s profile on the global stage for a significant part of the last quarter-century.
Duncan McCunn of Barclays, who hosted that section of the programme, said: “Sepura is a leader in digital radio products, systems and applications specifically for business and critical communications spanning public safety, transport, utilities, mining, oil and gas, manufacturing, construction and leisure. Its technology is supplied to organisations in over 100 countries worldwide.
“But here’s why the company is a torchbearer. The roots of the business go back to the Pye company founded in Cambridge 120 years ago. It made vital military equipment in the First World War and moved on to produce the first commercial successful radio, TV sets and – in World War II, a receiver of the most advanced design ever seen. It also pioneered early radar systems.”
Industrial technologies innovator TWI was named International Trade Champion by Alan Pain, UKTI’s new international trade director of the East of England region. He said: “TWI is an international powerhouse across every major industrial sector. Turnover for the last full reported year was up 9.5 per cent to almost £76 million.
“Exports increased by 9.7 per cent year-on-year and over three quarters of revenue is from exports. TWI is one of the world’s foremost independent research and technology organisations with expertise in solving problems in all aspects of manufacturing, fabrication and whole-life integrity management technologies. A number of current inventions are being exploited with customers worldwide from a fast expanding Cambridge HQ.”
MISSION Therapeutics won the new Life Science Innovation Award sponsored by AstraZeneca and MedImmune. AZ’s M & A lead, Shaun Grady said Cambridge was getting closer to giving the world a second blockbuster drug – almost a decade after the UK’s first inspired by Cambridge Antibody Technology. He said: “Olaparib stems from discoveries made by Professor Steve Jackson’s Cancer Research UK-funded team in Cambridge and has been recommended for January approval by the European Medicines Agency.
“Olaparib (under the trade name Lynparza) in Europe is designed for women with advanced serous ovarian cancer, fallopian tube and peritoneal cancer who carry a faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. MISSION Therapeutics builds on Steve Jackson’s genuinely pioneering research in these important areas of cancer.”
CCS won a special Wireless Innovation Award, chosen by Business Weekly from the whole wireless network locally. It sought to recognise one of the cluster’s greatest strengths in helping to influence a new advanced technology world.
Allan Carmichael of sponsor and tech product design consultancy TTP, said: “Mobile data traffic continues to surge and network operators are struggling to meet capacity requirements.
“CCS has created the world's first self-organising small cell microwave backhaul which brings low latency and high capacity. The first commercial deployment was for China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile operator, and CCS has now taken delivery of the first volume production of the solution from market-leading manufacturer MTI in China. The world is at its feet.”
Hexcel Composites won the Engineering Excellence Award, outlined by Tim Minshall of the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing, who praised the recognition of the importance of engineering to the economy. He said: “Hexcel has six manufacturing buildings at its Duxford site, which is also its European Centre for Research and Technology. Key applications for products made at Duxford are commercial aerospace primary and secondary structures, helicopters, defence aircraft and aero-engines.
“Its technology has contributed significantly to the first of the new Airbus A350 XWB jets recently delivered to Qatar Airways. Hexcel’s total content on each A350 is valued at $5 million, which is mightily impressive.”
Data dynamo GeoSpock won the coveted Cambridge Graduate Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Cambridge Judge Business School.
Hanadi Jabado, director of the school’s Accelerate Cambridge programme, said GeoSpock aimed to become the ‘Google of Big Data.’
“It was founded by Steve Marsh, a member of Cambridge University’s supercomputer brain team. Its initial product is for location data, where its easy to integrate API lets companies quickly update and query location-tagged information – regardless of how large the data gets,” she explained.
“Beyond location, it wants to improve the speed and accuracy of weather models, real time facial recognition and DNA sequencing for human healthcare.”
The Disruptive Technology Award went to Undo Software, spearheaded by Greg Law. Andy Groves of PwC, explaining the triumph, said: “Undo Software is the leading commercial supplier of Linux and Android reversible debugging tools that enable software developers to record, rewind and replay code to respond quickly to customer-critical bugs, increase their productivity and meet their development deadlines. Used by over 1,000 developers for world-class customers, the software reduces debugging time from weeks to minutes.”
Social enterprise SimPrints won the Startup Company of the Year accolade. Nic Rumsey, developer of the new Haverhill Research Park, said: “Backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and ARM in Cambridge, SimPrints has developed fingerprint scanners that connect wirelessly to any Bluetooth 2.0 compatible phone and customised this unique biometric system for the developing world.
“Fingerprint records can be stored with time stamps and GPS coordinates, improving the accuracy of database searches and providing powerful data for managers to monitor and support the provision of care.”
Social enterprise was very much to the fore as Business Weekly unveiled a new Award that will be presented in perpetuity. The inaugural Kate Gross Prize for Social Enterprise was won by Ann Cotton, founder of female education charity Camfed, and presented by Kate’s husband Billy Boyle. Kate formerly headed up the African Governance Initiative for Tony Blair, prompting African governments to improve infrastructure for human betterment.
Kate died from cancer on Christmas day but her family has continued to work with her adopted charity Street Child, which aims to free African youngsters from the poverty trap through education.
The charity needed £3k to fund its first primary school in Africa and £3.5k was donated by Darrin Disley, CEO of Horizon Discovery and another prominent business leader who does not want to be named. More funding is needed for related equipment and to start a second primary school and Business Weekly has committed to working with the family and the charity to get more East of England companies to commit cash, technology or resources on an ongoing basis.
Ann Cotton was described by Business Weekly CEO, Tony Quested, as “an iconic inaugural winner” of the Kate Gross Prize. Camfed is an international non-profit organisation tackling poverty and inequality by supporting girls to go to school and succeed, and empowering young women to step up as leaders of change.
Camfed invests in girls and women in the poorest rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa, where girls face acute disadvantage, and where their empowerment is now transforming communities.
Since 1993, Camfed’s innovative education programmes in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi have directly supported over 1.2 million students to attend primary and secondary school, and over three million children have benefited from an improved learning environment.
Ann Cotton said she was so proud to win an Award in Kate’s memory and would do all she could to try to build on the initiative. She said: “I am so very honoured to have been included as an awardee and especially for this prize honouring Kate and all her courage and passion for Africa. Billy and I are going to meet and talk about how we can create the biggest possible impact.”
Executives also raised another large amount of cash for our adopted cancer charity Maggie’s Wallace; Maggie’s Centres give fabulous support to cancer victims and their families 24/7 and rely on donations. Michael Thelwall, who represented the charity at the dinner, said it was “a fantastic effort.”
Newmarket Racecourses donated the prize for the charity draw. The Frankel Package included premier enclosure entry, food and champagne, for the QIPCO Guineas Festival on Sunday May 3 and it helped raise £1745 for Maggie’s Wallace. Jonathan Hamill of Sepura brought up a double for the company when his name was drawn.