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26 June, 2017 - 13:52 By Kate Sweeney

Life science crowdfunder goes for glory

Capital Cell Laura Ferguson

Cambridge-based Capital Cell, Europe’s first equity crowdfunding platform specialised in life science, has been shortlisted for the Best International Growth Business accolade at the UK Business Angels Association Investment Awards 2017.

Founded in Spain just over two years ago, Capital Cell is now also based in the Hauser Forum in Cambridge and intends to grow from that springboard in the life science cluster. It has successfully closed 14 life science crowdfunding campaigns, including Spain’s largest life science crowdfunding campaign of over €1.2 million, for a potential therapeutic cure for MS.

Scaling-up from this Spanish platform, Capital Cell UK has just launched in the UK’s leading innovation hotspot with a range of companies solving unmet needs from malaria control to female fertility enhancement and autoimmune disease.

Its contribution to the European life science ecosystem is the reason the company is in the running for glory in the UK Angels’ Awards which will be announced at the Dorchester Hotel in London on July 6.

Capital Cell UK director, Laura Ferguson (above), said: “We are absolutely thrilled that Capital Cell has been recognised so early in its expansion into the UK.

“The reception to our arrival has been overwhelmingly positive from players throughout the life science ecosystem, including specialised investors such as Angels in MedCity, with whom we are collaborating closely, as well as NHS innovation, science parks and startup incubators. It’s wonderful to have that traction formally recognised.”

Capital Cell has already proven itself as a platform for early stage investment in a very challenging environment. Chairman Ian Tomlinson was the co-founder of Domantis, which was acquired by GSK for $454 million in 2006, and is also chairman of Stevenage BioScience Catalyst.

He said: “We are extremely excited about scaling up in the UK, which is a global leader not only in life science innovation but also in equity crowdfunding. 

“As an investment area, life science has the potential for both huge social impact and significant financial returns and the companies listed on Capital Cell are all trying to solve a major unmet medical need. By opening up these investment opportunities to more people we hope to be able to help the UK remain at the cutting edge of life science commercialisation.”

Capital Cell was founded by Daniel Oliver, CEO, and has been trading from a main operational office in Barcelona. 

Following investment of more than €500k, including from UK and Spanish business angels as well as crowd investment from its own €300k crowdfunding campaign, which closed in March, the company decided to launched in the UK.
Daniel Oliver remains in majority control of the company with the UK launch being led alongside Laura Ferguson.

Why Cambridge? Ferguson says: “Cambridge is a growing hub for science and innovation, seeing particular growth in the areas of life science and biotechnology. 

“There is an ever expanding community of equity investors in the UK; in 2016 it was reported that life science equity investment had grown by 19 per cent whereas equity crowdfunding in the retail sector had seen a decrease of more than 30 per cent.”

Ferguson is an alumna of Cambridge where she studied her PhD in Evolutionary Biology and Developmental Genetics. She initially has four colleagues at the maiden Cambridge base.

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