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20 June, 2014 - 11:24 By Tony Quested

Cambridge players win a third of European Mediscience Awards

Abcam CEO and serial life science entrepreneur Jonathan Milner

Leading players in the Cambridge UK medical technology sector scooped a third of the accolades at last night's European Mediscience Awards.

Abcam CEO and serial life science entrepreneur Jonathan Milner; personalised medicines innovator Horizon Discovery; and cannabis-based drug specialist GW Pharmaceuticals took three of the nine awards at the London gala celebration.

Milner won the ‘most significant contribution to the mediscience sector award.’ Milner is founder and CEO of Abcam, one of the leading biotech success stories to emanate from Cambridge. He has been extremely active in the life sciences industry for many years. Investing some £8 million since 2005, mostly in healthcare companies, he has been involved in a large number of initiatives.

In 2002 he helped to fund and start Camnutra – a heart health lycopene (ateronon) product; in 2006 he was chairman and first investor and mentor to the CEO in Cambridge Temperature Concepts – a medical device company for infertility with a product called Duofertility that has US FDA approval and now selling in the US.

The following year he became principal investor inb the company. He is currently an NED of Horizon Discovery. He co-founded Axol Bioscience in 2012 – a university spin-out selling iPS stem cells mainly for Alzheimer’s research. He is current chairman, lead principal investor and mentor to the CEO. Also in 2012 Milner became a major investor in Definigen, another university spin-out supplying iPS stem cells mainly for liver research and tox testing to the Pharma industry. He also sits on the advisory panel of Cambridge Innovation Capital – a new university fund for early stage companies that just raised £50m.

Horizon Discovery was honoured as the ‘Emerging Star’ in the international life sciences firmament. The Cambridge UK gene editing technology business supplies research tools to organisations engaged in genomics research and the development of personalised medicines.

The European Mediscience Awards is the largest annual gathering of private and publicly quoted healthcare, biotech and life sciences companies in Europe.

It celebrates the best in the sector and highlights the achievements of individuals and companies. The event recognises the importance of the capital markets to fund growth and innovation and the awards cover the period April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.

Horizon CEO Dr Darrin Disley, said: “The past year has been transformational for Horizon and has seen the company develop from a fast-growing private business to become a successfully listed international company with over 800 customers globally.

“Horizon is at the forefront of a gene editing market that is set to grow to more than £29 billion by 2015. With our disruptive, world-leading technology and strong IP position, Horizon is positioned to become the global market-leader in the provision of translational genomics research tools and services.”

Earlier this week, Horizon hosted a visit by Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, who also met with members of the venture capital and angel investor community at an event in Cambridge.

He discussed various government schemes established to support entrepreneurs and start ups such as the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS). Overall, SEIS has now helped more than 2,000 companies, raising over £175 million.

Since it was established in 2012, over 140 East of England registered companies have benefited from the SEIS scheme, raising over £11million in funding to help their company get off the ground.

With the economy experiencing strong growth, the Exchequer Secretary was keen to hear from active investors and find out how the reliefs have incentivised them to invest in startups.

He mdd a special visit Horizon Discovery. Benefiting from SEIS, EIS, research and development tax credits, Technology Strategy Board grants and the Patent Box amongst others, Horizon has created over 120 jobs since its inception and in March 2014 listed on the AIM market for £68.6 million, making it the most successful life science float in the Cambridge cluster’s history.

The Exchequer Secretary’s visit came as Horizon announced that with  LGC – an international life sciences measurement and testing company – it had been offered a new research grant by the Technology Strategy Board.

GW Pharmaceuticals, which brought up Cambridge's European treble last night, is developing a portfolio of cannabinoid medicines, including Sativex, for the treatment of MS spasticity and cancer pain, and Epidiolex for the treatment of childhood epilepsy. Again, it’s been an active year for GW and there are a number of breakthroughs to choose from.

In June 2013 GW successfully raised $30m through a breakthrough IPO on NASDAQ. In January 2014 the company announced a successful follow-on offering, raising $101m to fund its Epidiolex® development programme for childhood epilepsy.

Last November 2013 the company announced the FDA had granted orphan drug status for Epidiolex in the treatment of Dravet syndrome.

And in February, GW gained orphan drug designation from the FDA for Epidiolex® for use in treating children with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), a rare and severe form of childhood-onset epilepsy. Epidiolex is an oral liquid formulation of a highly purified extract of cannabidol CBD, a non-psychoactive molecule from the cannabis plant.

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