Darktrace joins elite as Business of the Year
Cyber security star Darktrace was last night named Business of the Year in the 28th annual Business Weekly Awards at Queens’ College, Cambridge.
The company has recorded phenomenal growth in the last 12 months. Its Enterprise Immune System has identified 30,000 serious in-progress threats in more than 2,000 networks to date.
Kevin Calder, who introduced Business of the Year for lead sponsor Mills & Reeve – the international law firm – said: “The company is a world leader in cyber defence and could easily triple already impressive revenues in the next year alone. The sky would appear to be the limit for this company but don’t be surprised to see Darktrace challenge the stratosphere.”
Darktrace beat other world leaders in diverse fields such as Jagex, Napp Pharmaceuticals, DisplayLink, Bango, Grapeshot and a host of life science businesses including Horizon Discovery, F-star and Bicycle Therapeutics, to the coveted crown.
Dontrepreneur, Professor Steve Young – introduced by Acorn and ARM co-founder Hermann Hauser – explained to around 220 executives attending the event, how Cambridge had stolen a march on other innovation centres with a new wave of speech technology and diverse machine learning startups.
Professor Young was chairman of VocalIQ, a Cambridge University spin-out that was bought by Apple, and now shares his time between working for the US giant’s Siri development team and the university.
Another serial Cambridge entrepreneur, Sherry Coutu, explained a new initiative to encourage more women entrepreneurs to get involved in her Founders4Schools programme; this encourages business founders to go into UK schools to inspire new generations of entrepreneurs.
Their combined efforts preceeded a glittering Awards ceremony in which 11 major prizes were presented.
Category winners were:
- DisplayLink (International Trade)
- FiveAI (Startup of the Year)
- Horizon Discovery (Quoted Company of the Year)
- F-star (Life Science Innovation)
- Bicycle Therapeutics (Disruptive Technology)
- 8power (Cambridge Graduate Business)
- Marshall ADG (Engineering Excellence)
- Dr Su Metcalfe (Woman Entrepreneur of the Year)
- Jim Huntington and Trevor Baglin of SuperX (Cambridge Torchbearer Award)
- Footprint Cafes (Kate Gross Prize for Social Enterprise)
The Awards were sponsored by Mills & Reeve, AstraZeneca, MedImmune, Bailey Fisher, PwC, Barclays, TTP, St John’s Innovation Centre, Cambridge Judge Business School, Marshall of Cambridge, BBD UK.
Helen Wang, CEO of BBD UK, hosted the International Trade Award won by DisplayLink. She said: “Selling to global customers such as Dell, HP, and Lenovo, DisplayLink has grown over four-fold in the last five years, becoming highly profitable and continuing to invest substantially in R & D, making it one of the UK’s leading private semiconductor companies.
“Now employing over 150 people in the UK, Poland, Silicon Valley, and Asia (of which over 70 per cent are in technical roles), DisplayLink has built a broad patent portfolio as it pushes its core display technology into mobile devices, wireless displays and virtual reality headsets to sustain double digit revenue growth and continued profitability.”
Dr Su Metcalfe won the eagerly-contested Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award sponsored by Cambridge Judge Business School whose representative Sucheta Nadkarni explained that the prize was for a woman entrepreneur who had demonstrated outstanding achievements in the last 12 months.
She said: “We arrived at nine outstanding finalists spanning a range of business enterprises. Dr Metcalfe spun out from the University of Cambridge the LIFNanoRx product which exploits the body’s own repair pathways by precise targeting of LIF - Leukaemia inhibitory factor – to a treatment site. LIFNano Therapeutics has created a possible new treatment for multiple sclerosis – and potentially other diseases – and was awarded £1 million funding by Innovate UK.”
AstraZeneca and MedImmune sponsored the Life Science Innovation prize and judges were spoiled for choice. AstraZeneca’s Shaun Grady, explaining why F-star triumphed, said: “F–star is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing immuno-oncology bispecific antibody therapeutics. It is poised to dominate the bispecific antibody space in immuno-oncology through the application of highly efficient Modular Antibody Technology™ platform.
“This powerful platform enables the discovery of novel bispecific antibodies, which are selected for their potential to transform the treatment of cancer.”
Bicycle Therapeutics became the first life science business to win the Disruptive Technology Award.
Duncan McCunn of Barclays said: “Bicycle Therapeutics is a drug discovery company based on intellectual property originating in the MRC laboratory of the serial entrepreneur-scientist Sir Greg Winter. AstraZeneca invested in the company’s revolutionary platform in a multi-target multi-therapeutic area collaboration which has the potential to deliver revenues exceeding $1bn. Target areas include cancer, respiratory, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.”
Gene editing global leader Horizon Discovery kept the momentum going for bio, winning the Quoted Company Award. Ann Fisher of sponsor Bailey Fisher said: “Business Weekly decided to make a special award to a company with the courage to focus on building a global business despite the vagaries and volatility affecting quoted companies and often the inability of shareholders and investors to see beyond the raw share price.
“Business Weekly’s view is that Horizon is changing the paradigm for quoted businesses, especially those in the Life Science arena. It is on target to smash all its pre-IPO targets in 2017; some investors have made up to 40 times returns since float. But beyond the financials, Horizon has impressively fleshed out its business from pure gene editing to a much more expansive market embracing immuno-oncology and cell therapy.”
SuperX founders Jim Huntington and Trevor Baglin won the Cambridge Torchbearer Award. Robert Marshall, chief executive of Marshall of Cambridge, outlined the rationale, saying: “The Cambridge Torchbearer Award was introduced to honour individuals or companies fanning the flames of entrepreneurship through truly outstanding achievements enhancing the region’s reputation on a world stage.
“Last month alone Jim Huntington and Trevor Baglin launched two new companies in the space of seven days, raising almost $30 million. SuperX is developing antibodies with anti-coagulant properties.
“The duo had previously founded X01 which was sold to Janssen Pharmaceuticals. The founders described the antibody they originally discovered – ichorcumab – ie “the blood of the gods” - as a “one in a billion” medical breakthrough, comparing it to Fleming’s discovery of penicillin 85 years ago.”
The popular Cambridge Graduate Business Award went to 8power and Hanadi Jabado of sponsor Cambridge Judge Business School explained why. She said: “This Award is for the most exciting startup in any sector founded in the last 12 months and the science and technology presented for this prize shows how Cambridge remains ahead of the curve with its new generation of startups.
“8power is commercialising novel vibration energy harvesting technology developed by researchers from Cambridge University. The company recently raised around $1 million investment. Target markets are self-powered wireless and IoT devices for sensing and measurement in industrial applications and major infrastructure projects.”
FiveAI won a fiercely contested Startup of the Year Award, introduced by Adrian Bennett of PwC.
Bennett said: “Led by legendary Cambridge entrepreneur Stan Boland, Five AI is building the world’s most reliable autonomous vehicle software stack to solve the most difficult problem of all – delivering a solution that’s safe in complex urban environments, without any driver involvement. Their expertise will deliver the world’s safest driverless vehicles.”
Andrew Baker-Campbell of TTP introduced the Engineering Excellence Award, unveiling Marshall Aerospace & Defence Group as the winner. He said: “Marshall ADG is respected worldwide for its expertise in civil, military and commercial aircraft and defence solutions. It specialises in the conversion, modification, maintenance and support of aircraft and defence solutions in the air, on land and at sea. Its technology protects troops on the front line in global engagements and includes state of the art medical facilities in often hostile environments.”
The Kate Gross Prize for Social enterprise went to Footprint Cafes, hailed by sponsor David Gill of St John’s Innovation Centre. He commented: “Genocide by Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge in the 1970s claimed the lives of 2.2 million people in a population of seven million.
“Cambridge Judge Business School graduate Georgina Hemmingway founded Footprint Cafés backed by local entrepreneur trustees Darrin Disley and Alan Barrell to leverage the country’s thriving travel & tourism trade and raise money to feed and educate the needy in the reviving population; to train future generations of home-grown entrepreneurs; and to transform Cambodian life and society through sustainable educational and enterprise projects.”
• Photograph at top of page: Poppy Gustafsson (CEO, EMEA at Darktrace), guest speaker, Professor Steve Young, Jack Stockdale (Global CTO, Darktrace), and Kevin Calder (Partner, Mills & Reeve). Photography by Tony Lumb