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3 September, 2018 - 20:50 By Tony Quested

Cambridge ‘Dontrepreneurs’ launch £100m science & technology fund with more cash to come

shankar balasubramanian, cegx, gv

A $10 million investment in genetics business Cambridge Epigenetix has christened a sensational new $100m fund founded by an octet of Cambridge Dontrepreneurs – university scientists backing world-leading pioneers in technologies ranging from Artificial Intelligence to brain research and genetics.

Cambridge Epigenetix was founded by Sir Shankar Balasubramanian, one of the new Ahren fund’s superstar partners. He also founded Solexa which was the global game changer in genetic sequencing.

He is among eight founding scientific and technology entrepreneurs determined to fast-track bleeding edge Cambridge innovation through the new Ahren fund.

The fund is the brainwave of founder and managing partner Alice Newcombe-Eliis, a Cambridge mathematics and physics graduate. It is the first ever investment vehicle in Cambridge forged by a band of brothers and sisters purely drawn from academia.

The stellar scientists and technologists in the MedTech Magic Circle have pumped their own cash into the venture alongside external investors such as Aviva, Wittington Investments and cash-rich US families.

Ahren is evangelising a patient capital mantra, pledging to incubate investments over the long haul rather than cashing in on predatory short-term offers for red hot S & T breakthroughs.

Quantum technology, interpretable machine learning and energy efficiency are among other areas of interest to the fund alongside pure biotechnology and DeepTech plays.

Iris technology/biometrics recognition trailblazer John Daugman, Zoubin Ghahramani (AI), biotech visionaries Sir Greg Winter and Professor Steve Jackson and Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees have also invested alongside Venki Ramakrishnan, Nobel Laureate and president of scientific doyens the Royal Society.

Professor Jackson’s lab’s Cambridge bio-research model has led to the certain creation by AstraZeneca of a new blockbuster drug – the second for the city. 

Stem cell experts descend on Cambridge

Scientists from around the globe gather in Cambridge this month to share data, discuss ideas and address the biggest fundamental and translational questions in stem cell biology.

The 6th Cambridge International Stem Cell Symposium, which runs from September 19-21 at West Road Concert Hall, supported by Cambridge-based DefiniGEN, Stemcell Technologies, Axol Bioscience and the University of Cambridge will bring together biological, clinical and physical stem cell scientists, working across multiple tissues and at different scales.

The 2018 Symposium marks the opening of DefiniGEN’s new building on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus and celebrates advances being made in stem cell biology in Cambridge on a world scale.

Up to 500 Professors and Students are expected to attend the 3-day summit with keynote presentations from experts at Harvard University, Cambridge University, Imperial College London, Lund University, MiT, Columbia University, University of Milan and Genentech Inc in San Francisco.

The event features a trade exhibition, cross-disciplinary panel debate together with extensive networking opportunities and a gala dinner at Trinity College, Cambridge.
This year’s event is sold out, but interest in next year’s symposium should be directed to enquiries [at] stemcells.cam.ac.uk 

* PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS; Sir Shankar Balasubramanian

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