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Babraham’s 8th Biotechnology Investment Forum fosters finance opportunities for 16 companies

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6 June 2011

Babraham Bioscience Technologies (BBT) held its eighth Biotechnology Investment Forum (BIF) at the Babraham Research Campus, showcasing a wide selection of new technologies pioneered by 16 biotech companies to around 50 biotechnology-focused investor groups.

The Babraham Research Campus is supported by, and receives investment from, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Herman Hauser left and Andy Richards right. Copyright: Babraham Institute

Herman Hauser left and Andy Richards right. Copyright: Babraham Institute

Companies from the length and breadth of the UK were selected to pitch their innovative technology and business propositions, for which they were seeking investment from £250k to £17M. This included Biomarker discovery and service companies, a bio-nanotechnology company developing treatments for inflammatory dermatological conditions, a venture developing improved drug and delivery system for ovarian cancer and technologies to tackle antibiotic-resistant infections.

David Phillips who leads SR One's investment activities in Europe (GSK's corporate venture capital arm), gave the keynote lecture, sharing his insights about the role of Corporate Venturing in Life Sciences and current deal activity in the life sciences sector. He said, "The meeting was well organised and well attended. It was a great environment for entrepreneurs to interact with investors and leaders in the biotech industry.''

"It was fabulous to have an audience so engaged with the presentations and so willing to discuss investment," said Eddie Blair, CEO of Integrated Magnetic Systems, which has developed a business around 'tuneable magnetic proteins' for separation, diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Dai Hayward, CEO of CellAura Technologies added, "This is a higher success rate than any other investment event I've attended in the last year."

BioMoti, one of the presenting companies seeking £950k funding, has developed a new platform technology for the delivery of drugs to treat Ovarian cancer. BioMoti has been awarded two 'Follow-on Funding' grants from BBSRC - which provides strategic funding to the Babraham Research Campus - and an Enterprise Fellowship, both schemes designed by the Research Council to help translate innovative science into viable business opportunities.

Director Dr Davidson Day Ateh commented, "The Babraham Investment Forum was an excellent opportunity to introduce BioMoti to a large number of active life science investors at a single address. We have benefited from generous BBSRC support with two Follow-on-Fund awards and an Enterprise Fellowship that are enabling us to translate our innovative drug delivery technology from the academic base at QMUL. It is apt that a leading BBSRC Institute hosts such an important event which raises our profile as we engage with potential investors to fund our next development stage."

Dr Lina Chrisopoulou, pitching for £700k for SPS Healthcare, a company that has developed a novel liposomal drug delivery system to treat basal cell carcinoma and resistant warts, said, "The meeting gave SPS healthcare a great forum for presenting the company and a wonderful opportunity for generating interest and feedback. Lots of great contacts and useful advice came out of it; I left feeling motivated and energised and look forward to more contact with the Institute."

Three companies located in Babraham's Bioincubator presented at the Forum. Phico Therapeutics Ltd, based at Babraham since 2000, has developed an unique antibacterial product that exceeds the efficacy of other antibiotics and is being trialled as a nasal spray to treat MRSA. Senexis, based at the campus since 2004, is developing treatments and diagnostics for ageing related diseases like Alzheimer's. Dr Mark Treherne, CEO of Senexis, was pitching for £17M funding to support clinical development.

Cell Guidance Systems Ltd, the latest company to joining the campus in May 2011 is a stem-cell based manufacturing company. CEO, Michael Jones, said, "The Forum provides an excellent opportunity to pitch to investors and meet with other start-ups. The overall quality of presentations was high and we met investors actively seeking to deploy capital. We have started several promising discussions and would not hesitate to recommend BIF for investment partnering."

Over 100 delegates attended the Forum, which was also supported by Cambridge Enterprise and One Nucleus. Derek Jones, BBT's Chief Executive said, "This is our most ambitious BIF to date, with the largest number of companies, investors and delegates since the Forum was established. We are delighted with the turnout and feedback from the event.

"The campus plays a key role bringing together entrepreneurs and investors through events like this and we hope that the Forum will have catalysed conversations leading to the financing of early-stage bioventures. The spin off for us is hopefully they will establish themselves at the Babraham Research Campus, where we have ongoing developments to provide more facilities for companies."

David Brown, Chairman of BBT's Board of Directors commented, "The 2011 Biotechnology Investment Forum at Babraham Research Campus was outstanding. It gets better every year. The level of presentations from companies was very high indeed; there was an abundance of good science with business potential. And the audience was the largest to date, with a great deal of interest from venture capital companies. Altogether, the day highlighted the excellent potential of young biotechnology companies in the UK."



BBSRC is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £470M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life in the UK and beyond and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders, including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.

BBSRC provides institute strategic research grants to the following:

  • The Babraham Institute
  • Institute for Animal Health
  • Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (Aberystwyth University)
  • Institute of Food Research
  • John Innes Centre
  • The Genome Analysis Centre
  • The Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh)
  • Rothamsted Research

The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.