The first session of the event on the 27th Of October was run in collaboration with the Science Innovation Union, and consisted of a bio-entrepreneurship course, “Platforms for Translating Research”, during which Dr. Amir Gander gave us his insight on how to find appropriate platforms in order to get scientific research known to the public. He is the lead individual for Tissue Access for Patient Benefit (TAPb) at UCL, which aims to facilitate access, use and transfer of human tissues, organs and cells within UCL clinical centres but also across the UK and international universities, hospital and companies.
After having completed a first degree at UCL in Molecular Biology, substantial work experience in the pharmaceutical industry and a PhD in Bioengineering, Dr Gander’s main interest focused on establishing strong collaboration with both public and private sector researchers through TAPb to facilitate supply and transfer of tissues with clinical information from specific disease pathways.
Dr Gander explained how key entrepreneurial skills for success included concentration, discrimination, and organisation. Innovation and communication are crucial to translational research, which encompasses a mix of government and private funding required for translation of basic research into clinical development. He pointed out that innovation is not linked to the money available for research and development, and that disruptive technologies are responsible for creating completely new industries and market by displacing old ones. Notable examples of such technologies include smartphones and laptop computers, and are often followed by a period of sustained technology. Disruptive technologies are the ones that primarily affect markets and businesses. He added that promising scientific fields with high potential included flexible manufacture and cell therapies.
Session 2: BioStars Programme Launch and panel discussion: “The Good, the bad and the ugly of biotech startups” (7-8:30pm)
The event started with an introduction to the annual BioStars programme, a Biotech- and start-up-based initiative aimed at enabling young bio-entrepreneurs and scientists wishing to develop their ideas to translate them into commercial products. This biotech start-up-building programme offers 4D mentoring and funding to potential bio-entrepreneurs.
The application deadline to join this accelerator programme is Wednesday, 7th December 2016 and is open to anyone with an innovative life science idea wishing to turn it into a start-up business.
“The Good, the bad and the ugly”, involving panellists of different areas of expertise:
- Brijesh Roy, Investment manager at Mercia Technologies
- Gregg Sando, CEO and Founder of Cell Medica
- Inna Pertovskaya, BioStars Alumna and Founder and CEO of Pepper Biomarkers
- Amir Gander (previously introduced)
- Elodie Siney, Director and Co-founder of VisusNano Research
The panel discussion tackled various topics such as :
- How Cell Medica was founded and how the start-up progressed from 2005 until now
- How Pepper Biomarkers was founded last year through BioStars programme
- How start-ups funding and consultancy systems are different between USA and UK
- What factors came into play when choosing other members of the start-up and partners
- How pharma tend to prioritise profits over R&D, seen as an obligation towards shareholders
- Brexit influence on business and research in UK
This session was finally followed by a networking session with refreshments.