Bicycle Therapeutics puts Life Sciences in the vanguard as Business of the Year

Life sciences pioneer Bicycle Therapeutics was last night named as champion company at the Business Weekly Awards at Queens’ College in Cambridge.

It became the first Life Science company in the strictest meaning of the term to win the Business of the Year title since Horizon Discovery eight years ago.

Bicycle prevailed from arguably the strongest shortlist ever presented to the Awards judges.

Business of the Year, introduced by lead forensic sponsor Mills & Reeve, was one of 15 awards made on the night. The event went ahead after official protocol was investigated following the death of The Queen and guest executives joined Business Weekly in honouring Her Majesty’s passing in a respectful show of unity.

Her Majesty was patroness of Queens’ College – like her mother before her – and staff flew the flag at half-mast and black pennants fluttered from the college Tower as an added mark of respect.

Business Weekly CEO Tony Quested asked executives at the outset to honour a sedate approach to proceedings as a mark of respect to a remarkable monarch and UK figurehead.

What transpired was a poignant celebration of the excellence Her Majesty had always championed, not to mention her ‘business as usual’ approach to her own duties on behalf of the country.’

Business Weekly suspended a social media campaign planned for the night as a further mark of respect and several sponsors and winners made mention of The Queen’s magnificent legacy to the nation.

At the business end of proceedings, Bicycle was lauded as a ‘unanimous’ winner whose broad portfolio was already saving lives in cancer trials. It received its award from guest speaker Tim Minshall.

Announcing Bicycle as Business of the Year, Mills & Reeve technology lead Douglas McDonald told the audience: “It was pretty much unanimous that Bicycle Therapeutics had not only experienced a transformative year in terms of its own business but also continued to broaden a product pipeline that is already improving and even saving lives even at this relatively early juncture, through targeted trials in cancer and other diseases.

“Bicycle is growing headcount and facilities in both Cambridge and in the US, investing record amounts in clinical programmes and scooping some major global deals on the strength of its new generation of biotherapeutics.”

McDonald also introduced the AI Innovation category which was won by iKVA. He said: “iKVA’s Insight Engine takes you beyond traditional search. Using cutting edge AI techniques it enables users to discover data across the full range of enterprise content and then presents it to the user in the most relevant context for their task at hand.”

PragmatIC Semiconductor, which was essentially runner-up to Bicycle as Business of the Year, won both the Disruptive Technology category and Cambridge Judge Business School’s Graduate Business award.

Bruno Cotta from Judge, who introduced the Graduate category, said: “PragmatIC is a world leader in ultra-low-cost flexible electronics. The company based itself in Cambridge primarily because of a relationship established with Cambridge University – it arranged to embed its research team within the Engineering department as it developed technology proof of concept, and 75 per cent of the initial team were Cambridge graduates.

“Among its executive team, four are graduates or post-graduates from Cambridge Uni and the company has recruited a large number of graduates from the University in the past year.”

Andrew Williamson of Cambridge Innovation Capital was full of praise for PragmatIC in announcing why the company won the Disruptive Technology prize.

He said: “PragmatIC is a world leader in ultra-low-cost flexible electronics. Its flexible integrated circuits are thinner than a human hair and can be invisibly embedded in objects, enabling innovators to create novel solutions to everyday problems that are not practical with conventional electronics.

“Following an $80m Series C raise, the company has opened a second fabrication line which become the nucleus of a worldwide network of distributed FlexLogIC fabs to provide a dedicated Fab-as-a-Service for major international customers, supporting efficient and secure semiconductor supply chains via local on-site manufacturing.

“The judges found this combination of manufacturing excellence with technological brilliance to be genuinely globally game-changing.”

Shaun Grady of AstraZeneca, a staunch and long-term supporter of the Awards, introduced both the Life Science Scale-UP and major Life Science Innovation awards – won, respectively, by PhoreMost and Microbiotica.

Of PhoreMost, Grady said: “PhoreMost has developed a next-generation phenotypic screening platform called SITESEEKER® that can discern the best new targets for future therapy and crucially, how to drug them.

“This has the potential to significantly increase the diversity and affordability of novel therapeutics for cancer and other unmet diseases.

“Just 48 hours ago, PhoreMost revealed that has entered into a lucrative multi-project target discovery collaboration with Roche.”

He also praised Microbiotica, saying: “Microbiotica was launched in December 2016 with the aim of creating a global leader to exploit the leading microbiome science built at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

“Microbiotica is a global pioneer translating new rigour in microbiome science to enable it to fulfil its promise as a new therapeutic modality. A microbiome is a community of microorganisms.

“Within the last year it has progressed two live bacterial therapeutics (for cancer and ulcerative colitis) into scale up development and towards the clinic; further strengthened its microbiome platform; built out its leadership team; and moved into a new purpose-built facility in Cambridge.

“The company has engineered collaborations with Cancer Research UK, University of Cambridge, University of Adelaide and Genentech and strengthened its cash runway with a £50 million Series B raise – the largest European microbiome financing to date.”

Qureight was named Young Company winner and Claire Ruskin of Cambridge Network explained why. She said: “Qureight is a clinical data curation and analytics company whose platform allows the collection of critical data from complex diseases. Its platform tech will allow biopharma companies to recruit few patients for clinical trials and more precisely target the right kind of patients, saving money and producing better outcomes through a personalised approach to drug development.”

Paul Williamson, senior vice-president and general manager, Client Line of Business at Arm, introduced the Tech Scale-Up accolade, won by Nuclera. He said: Nuclera is revolutionising the way proteins are made. It has triggered a new phase of its growth plans by agreeing to take a new building in Cambridge as its global HQ for its more than 100 people.

“Using a streamlined combination of cutting-edge technologies in a deployable benchtop platform, Nuclera is able to provide consistent protein expression, characterisation, and purification workflows to its customers.
“In July, Nuclera raised an extra $15.5 million in Series B financing to bring its haul to date to $58m.”

Lucy Jung of Charco Neurotech became the youngest ever winner of the Cambridge Judge Business School’s Woman Entrepreneur accolade. Judge’s Bruno Cotta was thrilled to laud her achievement.

He said: ““Founder and CEO of Charco Neurotech, Lucy remains humble but at the same time is hugely driven and has nurtured a talented team drawn from across the golden triangle, which sets a notable hiring trend as companies locally fight to hire the best people.

“Charco has developed an easy-to-use, non-invasive wearable medical device for people with Parkinson’s, which can be worn discreetly under garments using medical-grade adhesive.”

Helio Display Materials won the inaugural Academic Spin-Out award and Professor Ian Hutchings of St John’s Innovation Centre said: “Helio Display Materials was unveiled last October as the first joint spin-out from the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford.

“It was spun out of Oxbridge by Professor Sir Richard Friend and Professor Henry Snaith. The company raised substantial investment in March to exploit a $120 billion display module market.

“Helio is creating materials for a new generation of brighter and more colourful displays that use significantly less power than current technologies.”

Christopher Walkinshaw, for sponsor Marshall of Cambridge, said the late Sir Michael Marshall – former CEO and then chairman of the group – would have been proud of the winning business in the Engineering Excellence award named in perpetuity after Sir Michael. Raspberry Pi was unveiled as the winner.

Walkinshaw said: “Designed by Cambridge engineers and computer scientists and consistently enhanced, Raspberry Pi has sold more than 40 million micro computer units and created a market worth $1 billion.

“Manufactured in the UK, the company supports more than 300 jobs here and in Wales and transformed the way engineers design control systems in industry. But more than this – on earth and even in space, its computers are providing the tools which are teaching so many young people around the world vital STEM skills – through schools, clubs and a host of other initiatives.”

Jane Hutchins, recently appointed as director of Cambridge Science Park, revealed SATAVIA as Sustainability Champion. The company has just clinched a deal with Dutch airline KLM to add to a soaring list of credentials.

Hutchins said: “SATAVIA applies AI, data analytics, and atmospheric and climate science to make aviation smarter and greener. Its vision is to eliminate two per cent of human climate impact through smarter, greener aviation.

“The company is working with major airlines and global governments to identify civil and military sector applications for its technology.”

Materials Technology was another newly introduced category. It was won by Porotech and Dr Samson Rogers, representing sponsor TTP plc, said: “Porotech’s platform technology was considered by judges to be a gamechanger across a number of applications, not just production of semiconductors but many other materials. These might be in the fields of Micro and Mini LEDs, Electronics, Sensors, Lasers or Quantum Technology, for example.”

Duncan McCunn of Barclays, who introduced the International Trade prize, revealed IQGeo as the winner. He said: “IQGeo delivers geospatial software solutions to telecoms and utility network operators. It recently announced the €13m acquisition of Comsof in Canada and Belgium and has racked up a significant number of overseas deals in the last 12 months, not least a $3.6m contract from a large US network operator fir a major fibre rollout.”

Simon de Young of PwC, eulogised the Quoted Company winner, Bango. He said: “Bango has developed unique purchase behaviour technology that enables millions more users to buy the products and services they want, using innovative methods of payment including carrier billing, digital wallets and subscription bundling.

“The world’s largest online merchants, including NASDAQ trio Amazon, Google and Microsoft, use Bango technology to acquire more paying users. Bango virtually doubled the size of the company recently with a cost-effective acquisition in Japan that more than doubles its End User Spend to around $8bn. The company is already profitable, increasing revenues and striking more deals with major players on pretty much every Continent.”