Accelerate@Babraham Start-up Competition 2019: Winners Announced


Five science start-ups have been awarded £10k, access to the Babraham Research Campus bio-incubator facilities, Accelerate@Babraham, and an extended programme of mentoring and support.

Eight finalists; life science ventures covering the fields of new therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices and manufacturing pitched head-to-head to a distinguished judging panel and an invited audience on Wednesday, May 15th, for the chance to join the Babraham Research Campus community as part of the 5-month 2019 Accelerate@Babraham programme.

The final followed on from the Babraham Investor Conference (BIC), a one-day event for investors showcasing start-up ventures looking for investment as well as presentations from more established companies sharing their experiences to date and the future milestones they are working towards. This year’s line-up also included guest speakers from Cambridge Enterprise (Anne Dobrée), Apollo Therapeutics (Ian Tomlinson) and the Governments Office for Life Sciences (Tamsin Berry).

The 2019 Accelerate@Babraham competition attracted many high calibre applications, all of which were reviewed by a screening panel of senior academics, investors, entrepreneurs and industry leaders, before a final list of eight ventures was decided upon.

The eight finalists had five minutes each to pitch their venture to an auditorium of over 100 investors, guests and members of the Babraham Research Campus community, before facing an additional, quick fire Q&A from the expert judging panel, which this year consisted of:

  • Olivia Cavlan, SV Health Investors
  • Vishal Gulati, Draper Esprit
  • Jane Osbourn, BioIndustry Association
  • David Grainger, Medicxi
  • John Trainer, AstraZeneca
  • Derek Jones, Babraham Bioscience Technologies

Of the eight, fivestart-ups were chosen as the overall winners. The winning ventures secure access to Accelerate@Babraham’s bio-incubator facilities, including use of communal equipped laboratory space, flexible workspace and access to the campus’ community hub, which includes office, meeting and social spaces. In addition, each also receives £10K non-dilutive funding; 1-2-1 mentoring from world class experts in the fields of science and business; access to the Babraham Research Campus’ enviable business and investor networks and a place on the second Accelerate@Babraham programme. The extended programme will run from September 2019 to January 2020 and includes a bespoke programme of training sessions all curated by experts in life science and bio-innovation. 

The successful ventures are:

  • CC Bio
  • Reflection Therapeutics
  • MicrofluidX
  • Shift Bioscience
  • TroMega Therapeutics

Olivia Cavlan, Principal, Biotechnology, SV Health Investors said: “What I found particularly motivating today was the exciting science, the breadth of opportunities and the depth of insight that our teams demonstrated. We had diagnostics, hard core therapeutics, medical devices…it’s just amazing to see the diversity of ventures. Beyond that, this early stage is really important to me. In my day job I help create companies, right from that very early stage, working out what’s in the thesis that’s going to differentiate the venture at every single stage of development and then build a company around it. In my eyes, helping others who may have less experience but have the drive to succeed is critically important in our sector and the competition today was an ideal platform from which to support and bring forward these very early stage ventures.”

Vishal Gulati, Venture Partner, Draper Esprit commented: “When it comes to accelerator programmes, and these types of competitions, we need to lower the hurdle for people to try new ideas and start new companies. The only way we can have successful, great companies is if we dare to start more and risk failing. I strongly believe that within the life sciences community we should do everything we can to lower the hurdles for everyone. The Accelerate@Babraham Start-ups Competition allows us to give opportunities to young ventures who otherwise might not have had that chance to test their ideas, meet the right people, and experience what it’s like to start and build a new venture.”

In supporting the development of new science concepts and the creation of new companies, Accelerate@Babraham complements the Babraham Research Campus’ ongoing support of the Cambridge life science cluster, through the provision of access to the campus community and infrastructure without the need to be an established occupier on site.



About the winners:

  • CC Bio: CCBio are harnessing the power of synthetic biology to develop exquisitely specific antimicrobials for the treatment of urogenital/vaginal pathogens, transforming the treatment of infections which affect millions of women worldwide. 
  • Reflection Therapeutics: Reflection Therapeutics is creating a first in class treatment for motor neurone disease. We will protect motor neurons from an overactive immune system, prolonging their function and delaying disease progression.
  • MicrofluidX: MicrofluidX develops a closed, fully scalable automated bioprocessing platform, based on microfluidics, targeted at large-scale advanced therapy manufacturing, in partnership with the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and Centre for Process Innovation.
  • Shift Bioscience: Shift Bioscience is a pre-clinical drug discovery and development company extending healthy lifespan by targeting root causes of aging.
  • TroMega Therapeutics: TroMega Therapeutics develops small molecules that change the activity of Tropomyosin4. They change the number of blood platelets and are novel drugs for diseases like Essential Thrombocythaemia and Cardiovascular disease.