The end of this year’s Accelerate@Babraham programme doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the journey at the Babraham Research Campus for the winning start-ups


After spending five-months on Campus, receiving bespoke training and guidance, and collecting a £10k cash injection, the five winning StartUP@Babraham competition life-science start-ups have come to the end of the programme. But for some, their journey at the Babraham Research Campus has only just begun.

At a final presentation day in February, in front of an audience of mentors, investors and strategic partners, CC Bio, Reflection Therapeutics, MicrofluidX, Shift Bioscience and TropoFour Therapeutics revealed their Accelerate highlights and future plans.

Reflection Therapeutics and Shift Bioscience are staying on Campus to take their ideas and science forward in our highly-networked environment and one of the UK’s leading campus' to support early-stage bioscience enterprise.

The Campus community has excelled itself with the level of support and guidance it has provided to this year’s ventures, making them feel welcome, providing hands-on assistance and offering invaluable advice.

Tim Newton from Reflection Therapeutics, which is harnessing anti-inflammatory cell therapies to treat neurodegeneration, revealed they are building their team, filing for IP protection and have raised more than £500k in grants: “Without that collegiate atmosphere on Campus, our research would have been really slowed down. We received advice and assistance from so many people on site, including equipment from Mission Therapeutics, and our work would not have been possible without the flow-cytometry here at the Babraham Institute.”

Daniel Ives from Shift Bioscience, which is poised to disrupt the anti-aging cosmetic industry with its technology which doubles the lifespan of human skin keratinocytes, added: “As well as securing our first commitment to seed round funding from an external investor while on the programme, we are pleased to be working with Professor Wolf Reik, the acclaimed epigenetics researcher at the Babraham Institute. We’re excited to be staying on Campus and all that brings.”

Matt Cummings from CC Bio, which is producing genetically engineered therapeutic bacterium, described how the move into a communal lab was a big learning curve: “We were used to an academic lab but tapping into the expertise here was fantastically useful as we made the transition into a communal lab environment. We have since developed four collaborations, one patent, one investment and two grants.”

Antoine Espinet from MicrofluidX, which is developing a new bioprocessing platform for cell and gene therapy, said the programme has facilitated a great acceleration of his company: “Being associated with the Babraham Research Campus has improved our visibility within the UK eco-system, which has enabled us to gain traction with commercial partners and investors, structure our staff and facilities, and develop a market-led IP strategy to address a valuable patient need.”

Marloes Tijssen from TropoFour Therapeutics, whose mission is to develop a medicine to prevent heart attacks and strokes in patients with Essential Thrombocythaemia, shared her experience and highlights of the programme: “It has been an amazing experience; our network has exploded! We have been challenged about our market, re-considered our strategy and how we will get the IP into the company. These honest conversations have been really helpful.”

Karolina Zapadka, Head of the Babraham Accelerator said: “It’s been a pleasure to work with such an inspiring group of start-ups, and there’s a lot of satisfaction in seeing them grow and thrive over the programme. The companies staying in the cluster still need our support and I know our network will be happy to provide that.

“Thank you to everyone involved in this year’s programme; mentors, supporters and the Campus community, for all their help, collaboration and enthusiasm. It’s a real team effort.”

Derek Jones, CEO of Babraham Bioscience Technologies, which develops and manages the Campus said: “Huge congratulations to this year’s cohort. I’m so proud of what they’ve achieved in just a few months. The big take home message we’ve got from this is that five months isn’t long enough. We are thinking about making this a 12-month programme; the five-month programme would remain, but winners would be invited to stay on Campus for a year. Watch this space.”

Applications for the third StartUP@Babraham competition are now open; the programme itself will start in September 2020.