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11 July, 2019 - 11:19 By Tony Quested

Start Codon boosts senior team and tracks first cohort

Start Codon, a new model of life science and healthcare business accelerator based in Cambridge, has strengthened its senior management team and started the hunt for the first cohort of five companies.

It is seeking companies with disruptive innovations that will revolutionise modern healthcare and platform technologies underpinned by strong intellectual property, with a particular emphasis on novel therapeutics, diagnostics, medtech and digital health.

Founded earlier this year, Start Codon is a strategic initiative which offers significant funding and support to rapidly translate the most disruptive and innovative research into world class start-up companies. 

Its new senior team members are Daniel Rooke, who has joined as partner and head of operations, and Sakura Holloway as partner and head of diligence. 

Rooke’s focus will be on the negotiation of investments, follow-on funding rounds and exits, as well as the management of the group’s intellectual property. 

Holloway will support Start Codon’s dealflow by identifying potential companies for investment and performing due diligence. She will also act as a mentor to businesses during the acceleration program.

Rooke is a senior lawyer with expertise in the healthcare and technology sectors. He was previously the General Counsel of, and member of the management team at, Cycle Pharmaceuticals Ltd, a Cambridge-based pharmaceutical company focusing on the rare and orphan drug markets.

There he built the legal team from the ground up and was heavily involved in the planning and implementation of Cycle’s global strategy and operations. Prior to moving in-house, he was a senior lawyer at, among others, Taylor Wessing LLP where he built a practice advising a wide range of technology and healthcare clients across the UK and worldwide, ranging from startups to multinationals, on a variety of venture capital and private equity investments, M & A transactions, tech transfers and licensing deals.


Sakura Holloway

With a technical background in biological sciences, including immunology and molecular biology, Holloway has held several key roles in intellectual property, commercial and VC investment. 

She joins from Merck KGaA, where she headed up business development operations in the European life sciences sector and was involved in sourcing and evaluating technologies for in-licensing and acquisitions. 

Previously, she was investment analyst at OneVentures Pty Ltd, an Australian VC firm focused on investing in clinical stage assets in the therapeutics, medical devices and diagnostics fields. 

As well as leading various deals, she was responsible for IP diligence across the healthcare team and acted as IP adviser to OneVentures’ portfolio companies. 

Prior to this she was IP counsel at Benitec Biopharma Ltd, head of commercialisation for RNAi technology at The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and director of IP at Cephalon Australia Pty Ltd (now Teva Australia), where she developed internal IP strategies and contributed to diligence activities during various in-licensing and M & A activities.

Start Codon CEO Dr Jason Mellad, said: “The appointments of Daniel and Sakura form part of our ambitious plans and mission to provide a new model of life science and healthcare business accelerator, with a world-class team to create maximum value for us, our investors and our investee companies. 

“Daniel and Sakura’s industry experience and expertise will be invaluable to the companies joining our acceleration program. I look forward to working with them in our next phase, as we identify the most exciting life science and healthcare companies from around the globe.”

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