Business Weekly 16 Mar 2023
One of the most significant and exciting developments in the Cambridge Cluster in recent times has been a surge of exploration by collaborating companies at the nexus of Science & Technology.
Synergies across disciplines are increasingly being explored; many such ventures begin as dalliances and flirtations and end up as marriages of inter-linking S & T plays.
Witness at the upper end of the scale AI computing world leader NVIDIA’s collaboration with Cambridge-anchored Big Biotech, AstraZeneca, on a transformer-based generative AI model for chemical structures used in drug discovery. It is among the first projects to run on Cambridge-1, the UK’s largest supercomputer, based at the KAO Data Centre in Harlow.
Many other collaborative examples are starting to shine through a blurring fog of R & D activities across the East of England and the wider UK. Numerous Cambridge startups are now operating at this innovation interface between Science & Technology.
This makes the introduction of the Bruntwood SciTech Pathfinder category in the Business Weekly Awards this year exceptionally timely. Entries are now open and we are seeking companies whose science or technology is influencing nextgen life sciences innovation.
Bruntwood SciTech is a property provider dedicated to driving the growth of the S & T sector. A new development planned by the company for Melbourn Science Park is being prepared for planners. While the exact blueprint remains under wraps, we can say that the environment envisioned will provide a breeding ground for cross-pollination of gamechanging ideas.
It is accepted that modern Life Science research is facing a number of increasing challenges, such as:-
- Inefficacy with the now well known ‘Eroom’s law’ graph showing that the number of new drugs approved per $bn R & D spent keeps decreasing exponentially
- Complexity – which links to the above and the need for new modalities, more precision approaches that lead to generating more samples, more data etc.
- Sustainability: like all sectors, life science needs a more sustainable approach that is difficult to match with sophisticated products and equipment as the tide of experiments and data continue to surge.
- The upshot is that solutions need to be sought and appear to find their root in the technology contributions from physics, engineering or data science.
A multidisciplinary approach – although not new – seems to be foremost in the thoughts of many leading life science practitioners.
Such an approach doesn’t come without challenges such as identifying and clinching different sources of funding, building the right teams, developing solutions in uncharted commercial waters and so on.
It is envisaged that the new development at Melbourn Science Park will be exceptionally placed to create the right environment for these companies to thrive because of a number of factors.
One is the park’s legacy, being home to one of the most multidisciplinary innovative companies in the area, TTP Group which will be able to provide technology development and commercialisation support. TTP has successfully spun out five companies in the space and two have now exited.
Strengthening the proposition, the Bruntwood SciTech Innovation Support framework and associated network will bring to the project its expertise in strategic and operational development from both the life science side (witness Alderley Park and Manchester CityLabs) and the Tech side (Leeds Platform or Innovation Birmingham). The core model can be adapted within this core model of a Bruntwood SciTech ecosystem.
With The Pathfinder Award, Bruntwood SciTech seeks to highlight the importance of converging science & technology to maximise the impact of life science research on people’s lives and turn the spotlight on some of the great companies and bright innovators who are already highly active in the space.
Local companies who would appear to fit the space would include the likes of Nuclera, Semarion, OriBiotech, which now has a presence in Cambridge, Evonetix, Lightcast, Cellular Highways, CN Bio, Sphere Fluidics and bit.bio – to name but a few.
Monumo and Biofidelity target awards glory
We can all acknowledge that the word ‘revolutionary’ is way overworked in describing new science and technologies. But we would argue that two of the latest entries to the Business Weekly Awards – Monumo and Biofidelity – are exactly that.
Monumo – an electromagnetic engineering company for a sustainable future – isn’t officially in stealth and the company is certainly not shouting its potential from the rooftops. It is putting foundations in place to ensure it builds a business fit to last.
Business Weekly, which since the competition launched in 1990 has spotted potential global greats very early in their life cycles, believes Monumo fits into this category. Spearheaded by former Arm executive Dominic Vergine, Monumo is gunning for the DeepTech trophy in the newly launched Awards. This is for a startup operating in research, Science & Technology providing solutions based on substantial scientific or engineering challenges. Raw research and AI making a difference will feature.
As the company contends: “AI is the future of engineering, enabling system-level optimisation of complex machines. Monumo is at the forefront of this new technology trend, doing for electric motors what AI has done for drug discovery and genetics. Electric motors and generators are essential to tackling the climate crisis. The better they are the quicker we will achieve global sustainability.
“Electrification of every sector demands smaller, lighter, cooler, cheaper, more sustainable and more efficient motors. For the first time ever Monumo’s technology will explore the full motor design space to create the motors that will drive the 21st Century.”
The company claims that by combining human ingenuity with DeepTech intelligence, it can generate transformative technologies out of reach via conventional means.
Cambridge Science Park company Biofidelity is at the heart of the Cluster’s rapidly accelerating drive for greatness in the world of genomics. It has entered both the Young Company of the Year and Disruptive Technology categories of the Awards.
Biofidelity is a revolutionary technology company dedicated to unleashing the potential of genomics to transform human health. The company’s adaptive platform technology removes the noise from genomic data, providing only the information needed to make decision-making less complex, faster, and more efficient.
Founded in 2019, Biofidelity is a rapidly growing private business of scientists, engineers, physicians, and commercial experts dedicated to making genomics globally accessible.
Eliminating uninformative genomic data significantly reduces the complexity and cost of genomic analysis and accelerates decision-making. Biofidelity’s mission is to transform human health by developing innovative technologies that unleash the potential of genomics by removing the noise from genomic data, providing only the information needed to make genomics more widely accessible.
Currently, complexity and inefficiency are limiting the impact of precision medicine and the company aims to change that via its reagent-based products built on a unique molecular biology platform.
It is driving global decentralisation of precision oncology. It is solving key issues in Next-Generation Sequencing. And, ultimately, it is transforming millions of lives globally through access to the vital information needed for accurate targeting and monitoring of cancer treatment.
This year’s sponsors in alphabetical order are: Arm, AstraZeneca, Barclays, Bruntwood SciTech, Cambridge Innovation Capital, Cambridge Judge Business School, Cambridge Network, Cambridge Science Park, Marshall of Cambridge, Mills & Reeve, PwC, TTP plc and Unity Campus.
Lead forensic sponsor Mills & Reeve, a UK leading law firm, will set up an interview with entrants’ chosen spokesperson to prepare a confidential report for the judges.
The award categories are:
Young Company of the Year
Cambridge Judge Graduate Business of the Year
The Sir Michael Marshall Engineering Excellence Award
The Pathfinder Award
Life Science Scale-up
Life Science Innovation
International Trade Champion
Quoted Company of the Year.
Cambridge Judge Business School Woman Entrepreneur of the Year
Investment of the Year
From all of the entrants a Business of the Year will be selected to join a Hall of Fame that includes Abcam, Acambis, Arm, Autonomy, AVEVA, Bicycle Therapeutics, British Sugar, Cambridge Antibody Technology, Cambridge Quantum (Quantinuum), CSR, Darktrace, Domino, Frontier Developments, Horizon Discovery, Ieso Digital Health, Perkins Engines, Pi Group, Ryanair, Sepura, TTP, Treatt plc, Virata and Xaar plc.