OneStart Winner Announced!
On 16th May, the OneStart competition came to a close with a gala dinner at The Grand Connaught Rooms in London; the winner was announced along with a surprise from the judges. From around 100 initial entries, 35 teams were selected to attend the semi-finalist’s biotech bootcamp in March, where teams were provided with the knowledge and support to develop their ideas into feasible business plans. Each team received mentorship from professionals across 24 different organisations including GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Ernest & Young and Imperial Innovations. Each business plan was assessed and in April the 10 finalists were announced.
The event was a chance to showcase the top 10 finalist’s biotech ideas to an audience of pharmaceutical industry professionals, venture capitalists and academics. Earlier in the day each team pitched their business plan to a panel of judges including Jens Eckstein, President at SROne; Daniel Perez, Founder and President at OBR; Maria Bobadilla, Senior Director in Academic Innovation Partnering at Roche; Ian Tomlinson, Head of Biopharmaceuticals R&D and Worldwide Business Development at GSK; Kate Bingham, Managing Partner at SV Life Sciences and Andrew Sandham, Chairman and CEO at Kymab. The judging panel discussed the potential of each idea and subjected each team to a thorough questioning. After much deliberation the winner was decided.
OBR and SROne are pleased to announce that the winner of the OneStart ideas competition is Puridify. Puridify consists of a team of three young entrepreneurs; Oliver Hardick (CEO), Tom Haywood (CFO) and Iwan Roberts (COO), whom OBR would like to congratulate on their victory. Their prize included a £100,000 investment, lab space at Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, one year membership to life science networks including One Nucleus plus business and intellectual property support.
Puridify Ltd. is a London based spinout company from the Department of Biochemical Engineering, University College London. Their flagship product, FibroSelect, is a new chromatography reagent structure that utilises existing purification chemistries in a more efficient manner. Existing purification techniques are inefficient and contribute to the high cost of biotherapeutic production. Fibroselect is able to reduce biotherapeutic manufacturing costs by 40-90%, making the process more time- and cost- effective addressing the global demand for cheaper drugs and widening patient access to new and existing therapeutics.
But there was a surprise from the judging panel when it was announced that a further £10,000 was to be invested in a second of the 10 final teams. The decision to choose just one of the 10 amazing ideas proved too difficult. Therefore, OBR and SROne are also pleased to announce that the runner-up of the OneStart competition is LipoPep. The team consists of Lynda Harris, Anna King and Natalie Cureton, whom OBR would also like to congratulate.
LipoPep is a targeted drug delivery system that allows for existing therapeutics to be actively and selectively delivered to the placenta, providing the first treatment option for pregnancy complications. Placental abnormalities affect approximately 10% of pregnancies worldwide and cost in excess of $40 billion per year. Such abnormalities lead to pre-eclampsia and foetal growth restriction, which result in an increased risk of stillbirth, premature birth, neonatal death and poor health in adulthood. Currently there is no therapeutic intervention for these complications, with the only treatment option being premature delivery.
Although there could only be one winner, the efforts and achievements of the remaining eight finalists cannot be ignored. With support, their ideas and business plans have the potential to change the current practice in healthcare. Daniel Perez, Founder and President at OBR said; “We knew there was this latent bio-entrepreneurship bubbling in Europe, and we’re absolutely thrilled to have tapped into that enthusiasm. A very promising product, being developed by a stellar team (all in their twenties) just got an incredible injection that I hope will lead to a fantastic London-based biotech.”
The gala dinner also gave the audience a chance to hear from the experts in the commercialisation of scientific discoveries. Maria Bobadilla gave an insight into how partnerships with Roche function and issues with funding such business ideas. Sarah Holland, Head of Strategic Partnering at Roche, also added that “Roche is delighted to have provided support for the OneStart competition. It is very encouraging to see a student-led initiative to foster the next generation of biotech entrepreneurs. Who knows, one of the competitors may start the next Genentech!” Louise Nash, Partner at Covington & Burling also provided the insight of the lawyers involved in the process of commercialising a discovery. She explained that a large proportion of their staff are of a scientific background and so understand the process from the legal and scientific point of view. As always it is fascinating to hear the viewpoints of various individuals involved in this process and OBR would like thank the speakers for their time.
The OneStart competition was a huge success which was reiterated by the attendees of the gala dinner. Hagan Bayley, Professor of Chemical Biology at the University of Oxford and a member of OBR’s scientific advisory board said; “OBR came out of nowhere in 2011 and since then has provided a colossal stimulus for university entrepreneurship at all levels from undergraduates to academic staff. The depth of talent and the level of energy at the OneStart Finals were stunning. Investors had better write their cheques today!”
OBR would like to extend their gratitude to the entrants, their mentors and the judges for the time and effort contribute to this competition. OneStart has encompassed a group of people who all have a common goal, the improvement of healthcare. OneStart has opened the lines of communication between young bio-entrepreneurs in academia and the industry. Jens Eckstein, President at SROne said; “We believe that there is a significant opportunity to unlock more commercial potential from the world-leading science currently being developed in Europe”. OneStart is just the beginning.
Below is a gallery of the photographs from the event, which can also be found on our Facebook page.
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