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3 July, 2018 - 19:03 By Tony Quested

MedImmune cash spur in Babraham bio startup competition

Babraham Research Campus

Some of the UK’s most exciting life science startups go head to head in Cambridge next week after being named as finalists in the Accelerate@Babraham Startup Competition.

Winners at the July 11 final will secure access to Accelerate@Babraham’s bio-incubator facilities, including communal equipped laboratory space, flexible workspace within the Babraham Research Campus’ stimulating and supportive environment and access to its community hub, which includes office, meeting and social spaces.

Finalists will receive £20k non-dilutive funding per venture plus 1-2-1 mentoring from world-class scientific, technical and business experts. Business Weekly Awards co-sponsor MedImmune will provide one of the £20k prizes, we can reveal.

The competition was launched in May and having received numerous applications, the Accelerate@Babraham team have narrowed down the short-list to a final line-up of eight.

Cambridge has half the finalists, London three and Cardiff one. There is a Spanish flavour to the mix as Flomics is dual-based in Barcelona and Cambridge.

The eight looking great are Antiverse Ltd (Cardiff); Flomics (Cambridge);  Kalium Diagnostics (Cambridge); Oppilotech Ltd (London); Qkine Ltd (Cambridge); Sixfold Bioscience Ltd (London); SNPr Ltd (Cambridge) and VisusNano Ltd (London).

The finalists are:- 

Antiverse Ltd (Cardiff)
Accelerated drug discovery. One day return instead of the industry standard of three-18 months. In addition to speed Antiverse says it differentiates itself from the competition by superior scale, consistent quality, difficult- target binding, and an animal-free process. 

Flomics (Cambridge)
Based in Cambridge and Barcelona, Flomics is developing a novel blood-based diagnostic tool for a broad range of complex diseases. Its proprietary technology accurately identifies pattern changes in the circulating long RNA molecules of patients. With deep learning algorithms Flomics identifies RNA changes associated with disease states in a faster, cheaper and non-invasive way. 

Kalium Diagnostics (Cambridge)
Developing the world’s first blood potassium test for home and bedside use. This test has the potential to improve the safety, health and lifestyle of over two million people who have renal disorders causing hypokalemia or hyperkalemia, including dialysis patients and those with particular rare diseases. 

Oppilotech Ltd (London)
The company is taking a systems biology approach to build what it calls one of the most detailed computational network models of the outer envelope of Gram-negative bacteria that has ever been assembled. The model is being utilised to develop first-in-class antibacterial drugs that will address the looming antibiotic resistance crisis. 

Qkine Ltd (Cambridge)
Qkine manufacturers high quality growth factors and cytokines. Spun-out from Cambridge University, the company has a strong foundation of know-how and licensed technology and plans to develop this portfolio through in-house R & D and in-licensing. 

Sixfold Bioscience Ltd (London)
Has developed RNA nanoparticles to deliver gene editing drugs such as CRISPR exclusively to cancer cells, which have demonstrated promising early in vitro and in vivo data. 

SNPr Ltd (Cambridge)
The business is developing a platform technology that enables linking genomic variants (SNPs) in non-coding genomic regions to their target genes, holding the promise to unlock the full potential of existing genome-wide association study (GWAS) data. 

VisusNano Ltd (London)
It has developed drug-releasing lens implants for use in cataract surgery, providing sustained, controlled release of drugs within the eye, without compromising the optical properties of the lens implant. 

Launched in January, the objective of Accelerate@Babraham is to support the development of science concepts and the creation of new life science companies by providing access to equipped communal laboratories on short-term agreements, as well as guidance from mentors and introductions to investors. 

The first Accelerate@Babraham Start-up Competition goes one step further, giving up to five new companies the chance to win access to the Accelerate programme for a three-month period from September. 

The finalists will pitch to a panel of expert judges, including David Grainger, partner at Medixci and John Trainer, VP and head of partnering and strategy at MedImmune.

Dr Karolina Zapadka, business acceleration manager, Accelerate@Babraham commented: “We have been delighted with the response to our first Accelerate@Babraham Start-up Competition.  

“Applications were particularly strong, and it was a difficult process to narrow the field down to our final eight. All eight finalists put forward strong business cases coupled with a real passion for life sciences spanning diagnostics, computational modelling, accelerated drug development technology and genomics.”

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