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11 January, 2012 - 15:40 By Tony Quested

ideaSpace and Babraham forge collaboration

Babraham Research Campus

A new partnership between two key players in the Cambridge UK innovation ecosystem has been launched to offer a more connected support mechanism for early-stage companies.

The Babraham Research Campus and The University of Cambridge’s ideaSpace have entered into a strategic relationship through which early-stage ventures will have dual access to the ‘plug and play’ laboratory facilities at Babraham and the co-working community at the ideaSpace in the Hauser Forum.

The Babraham Research Campus (BRC) has a strong track record of providing state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and support for start-up and growing biotech companies.

In addition to the academic research exploring the biology underpinning lifelong health and ageing at the Babraham Institute, the campus provides 70,000 sq ft lab space across four Bioincubator Buildings, which are currently home to around 30 biomedical companies.

A fifth Bioincubator, on track to open later in April, brings online a further 20,000 sq ft of space. A fully equipped biology and chemistry laboratory, as well as other scientific facilities, are accessible for companies on and off site, ideal for start-up businesses.

ideaSpace is a co-working community space based in the Hauser Forum at the University of Cambridge West Campus, offering ‘hot desks’, coaching and mentoring support to around 70 members, most of whom represent early-stage ventures looking to develop and accelerate their business idea.

“Joining forces with the Babraham Research Campus really gives ideaSpace the opportunity to widen our offering to potential members in the biomedical sector,” said Dr Belinda Clarke, director of external relations at ideaSpace.

“Many companies don’t need full time access to lab facilities but want to access it on an ‘as needed’ basis. The superb facilities at Babraham can help ideaSpace support a wider range of members from different sectors who require such specialist facilities.”

CEO of Babraham Biosciences Technologies, Dr Derek Jones, is equally enthusiastic about the new relationship. “ideaSpace is a totally different model to the traditional incubator,” he explained. “So we are delighted that the innovative entrepreneurs in both organisations will have a chance to work more closely together and spark new ideas as a result.”

Local angel investors and entrepreneurs have also welcomed the new partnership. Serial healthcare entrepreneur and founder member of the Cambridge Angels, Dr Andy Richards, said: “The economic climate is making the availability of flexible business support a key success factor for entrepreneurial growth. It is this sort of innovative initiative from Babraham and ideaSpace that makes Cambridge a more attractive place for entrepreneurs and investors to take the risks that are needed for the future economy to thrive.”

Entrepreneurs from sectors beyond the biomedical space stand to benefit from this new relationship between Babraham and ideaSpace.

Michael Priestnall, founder of Cambridge Carbon Capture, a clean-tech venture based at IdeaSpace, added: “In these days of fast, lean, innovative start-ups, quick and easy access to laboratory space is critical for an early-stage science-based company to test ideas and to demonstrate its technology to potential customers and investors.

“However, lease terms, legal liabilities, IP issues and the like more commonly makes for an expensive, wasteful and time-consuming processes. There is high-quality lab space of all types in Cambridge that could be so much more efficiently utilised and which could catalyse new science start-ups if the right access arrangements could be put in place. It is fantastic to see Babraham and IdeaSpace joining forces to start making this happen.”

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