Last night, June 6th, 2019, the Launch: Great West Awards brought together over 250 members of the growing scientific start-up ecosystems across the South West in the Grand Mercure Hotel in Bristol. The awards honoured the achievements of start-up and spin-out companies commercialising scientific research across all scientific disciplines in eight categories that recognise achievements from recently incorporated ventures to those companies that have secured noteworthy fund-raises and exits.
The evening, hosted by Dr Emily Grossman science communicator, broadcaster, and educator, and an expert in molecular biology and genetics, was made possible by a fantastic community of attendees, judges, and sponsors - particularly headline sponsor the Bristol BioDesign Institute.
Local MP Thangam Debbonaire kicked off the celebrations commenting “I am delighted that this celebration of scientific and technological innovation is taking place in the region. There are a lot of cutting-edge scientific research in the region. This has contributed to the region’s well-deserved reputation for creativity and innovation, evident in our universities and the agenda-setting businesses which contribute so much to the economy.”
Over 55% of all companies put in an application for the “Global Good Award” demonstrating the tremendous positive impacts that these companies can have, striving to tackle global challenges, such as disease prevention, food security, and meeting the world’s energy demands.
“The South West displays exceptional research strengths across life sciences, quantum technologies, robotics and advanced engineering. Recently, there has been a major increase in business formation around ideas derived from academic research. The Launch Great West Awards celebrates the achievements of this growing community to inspire the next generation of scientific entrepreneurs” states Dr Ben Miles, CEO of Spin Up Science Ltd, the organising group behind the event.
57% of nominees were from companies incorporated in the past two years representing a doubling of the science start-up community in the South West. Nominations were received from companies based in Bristol (64%), Bath (23%), Plymouth (11%) and Exeter (2%).
During the evening, Dr Martin Sadler special adviser to the VC of the University of Bristol on Industrial Strategy addressed the audience stating, “if we want to continue to make our region, [the South West] successful, we’re gonna have to work a lot harder at building shared language and we’re gonna have to work a lot harder at moving people around. The key thing is we have to get everyone out of their comfort zones and spending time in [parts of] the ecosystem they’re not familiar with.”
While discussing the increased scientific start-up activity in the South West, Dr Harry Destecriox stated, “I really see this [Launch: Great West] as a landmark event. What has happened in the [South West] in the last 24 months is really hard to take in and these moments are really important just to stop and look back and take stock of what’s happening. I’m really excited about what the next 24 months holds.”
The Winners of the 1st Annual Launch Great West Awards
Rosa Biotech win The Ones to Watch Award
(Sponsored by Research and Enterprise Development University of Bristol)
The Ones to Watch Award highlights research at the early stages of the commercialisation journey, either pre-incorporation or incorporated within the last 12 months.
University of Bristol spin-out company, Rosa is redefining biosensing in early disease diagnosis and biotechnology through a combination of a novel bioengineered protein structures and applied machine learning. The novel sensing platform mimics the olfactory systems of mammals enabling the analysis of complex chemical profiles. The ambition of the Rosa team is to be able to make accurate clinically valuable predictions and spot disease in its earliest stages.
CytoSeek win The Rising Star Award
(Sponsored by University of Bristol and SETSquared Bristol)
The Rising Star Award celebrates early stage companies, 3 years old or less, working to develop proof of principle or early commercial products with seed funding secured.
CytoSeek is an early-stage spin-out commercialising cell therapy technology developed at the University of Bristol. Their vision is to improve the lives of the more than 18 million people worldwide who are diagnosed with cancer each year. Presently, treatments for solid tumours, which account for most tumour deaths, are limited by the inability of immune cells to penetrate the tumour microenvironment. CytoSeek have developed a new protein-based technology which they hope to use in creating the first effective cell therapy for solid tumours.
Ultrahaptics win The Rocket Fuel Award
(Sponsored by University of Bath and SETSquared Bath)
The Rocket Fuel Award recognises ambitious growth by expansion of capability or accessing new national or international markets.
Ultrahaptics is the world’s leading mid-air haptics company. The company has developed a unique technology that enables users to receive tactile feedback without needing to wear or touch anything. The technology uses ultrasound to project sensations through the air and directly onto the user’s hands, enabling users to ‘feel’ virtual buttons, get tactile feedback for mid-air gestures, or interact with virtual objects. Ultrahaptics was founded in 2013 and is headquartered in Bristol.
Ceryx Medical win The BioDesign Award
(Sponsored by Bristol BioDesign Institute)
The BioDesign Award recognises the fusion of engineering with biology to accelerate innovation and enable new impacts in life sciences and biotechnology.
Ceryx Medical is working to develop bioelectronics based on unique, patent protected, chip technology which is able to mimic nerve centres. Founded in 2016 to develop the technology from the Universities of Bath and Bristol, Ceryx focused their development on electronics designed to mimic the nerve structures used to control key processes within the body. Using a biomimetic approach, Ceryx creates closed-loop systems which are able to communicate with the body seamlessly and in real time to control a range of autonomic or rhythmical processes such as peristalsis, heart rate and even walking.
Monika Radclyffe wins The Innovation Champion Award
(Sponsored by IP Group)
The Innovation Champion Award celebrates an individual that has played a key role in supporting the commercialisation pathway or start up journey.
Centre Director, SETsquared Bristol
Monika Radclyffe is the Director of SETsquared Bristol, the global number one Business Incubator, where she manages the Centre’s strategy and delivery of incubation activity to 80+
high-tech ventures with 25% in the science tech sector. Since joining in 2016, she has worked with over 130 technology and science companies across 37 sectors and helped them raise £394 million in investment. She has implemented many new initiatives to make science and technology communities more accessible and diverse, forming new partnerships and ensuring access for entrepreneurs around the globe to world-leading incubation services.
Imophoron win The Global Good Award
(Sponsored by RSM)
The Global Good Award recognises innovations that are bringing about positive change and striving to tackle global challenges.
Imophoron’s ambition is to bring about a revolution in the fight against deadly pathogens and to tackle current challenges in the vaccine industry with their next-generation vaccine development platform. Infectious diseases rank among the largest causes of preventable death worldwide. Vaccination has proven to be a powerful tool to counter infectious disease, however, recent pandemics such as Chikungunya, Ebola and Zika outbreaks serve as reminders of the need for fast and effective vaccine development processes.
Ziylo/Carbometrics win The Deal of the Year Award
(Sponsored by TLT)
The Deal of the Year Award celebrates the success stories that all start-ups aspire towards; successful funding rounds, mergers, and exits.
Ziylo was founded in 2015 to commercialise a synthetic molecule, developed at the University of Bristol, capable of effectively binding glucose in the bloodstream. The glucose binding molecules discovered by the Ziylo team have the potential to lead to the development of novel insulins, which can potentially remove the risk of hypoglycaemia, when blood sugar levels fall below normal. In 2018, Ziylo was acquired by global healthcare company Novo Nordisk in an agreement that could exceed US$800 million. Prior to closing of the acquisition, certain research activities were spun out of Ziylo to a new company, Carbometrics, which has entered into a research collaboration with Novo Nordisk.
FluoretiQ win The People's Choice Award
(Sponsored by Future Space)
The People's Choice Award invites attendees to nominate their choice for the best science start up in the region.
FluoretiQ are working to develop a technology platform to reduce the processing time of identifying bacterial infections from 2 days to 15 minutes. Working at the interface of engineering, microbiology and chemistry, the technology rapidly identifies the bacterial strains present in patient samples, and in the long term could be used to determine which antibiotics would best treat the infection. Their vision is to ensure that everyone receives the best antibiotic treatment from day one.