Pictured left to right: Dr Hugo Villanueva (SBC), Dr Ajay Mistry (founder and CEO of Oppilotech Ltd) and Dr Sally Ann Forsyth OBE (CEO of SBC)

15 start-ups with huge potential have successfully completed the Data-driven Advanced Therapeutics Accelerator (DATA) programme at Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC), one of Europe’s most important science parks for life sciences. The course was tailored to give data-focused biotech start-ups the skills they need to get potential new drugs and therapies to market more quickly. It was supported by SBC’s community of biotech leaders who shared their expertise through this unique programme focused on the intersection of data analytics and drug discovery.

The programme was launched to seek out and nurture start-up companies working to discover new drugs. Following a rigorous selection process, the chosen 15 kicked off with a week-long boot camp, followed by an 18-week programme of mentoring, networking and training to boost their skills.

The participants were able to build their general business skills in intellectual property, finance, contract negotiation and raising investment.  In addition to this, they gained specialist skills directly related to the sector including structuring deals, running clinical trials and accessing and securing data.  By providing bespoke introductions to specialist investors and contacts in biopharma organisations the programme further helped the participants to expand their networks.

The participants will now be part of an alumni network where they will receive post acceleration support and continue their development journey.

Ajay Mistry, PhD, founder and CEO of Oppilotech Ltd, said, “SBC’s DATA accelerator programme has been really supportive. It has enabled us to expand our network and there has been an excellent range of speakers from lawyers to investors, providing useful insights and top tips. We have already established working relationships with the contacts that we made through the programme. The team has done an excellent job and provided a programme that has been genuinely helpful – all at zero cost.”

The culmination of the programme was a demo day which gave the start-ups exclusive access to specialist investors and pharmaceutical experts.

Dr Sally Ann Forsyth OBE, CEO at SBC, said, “Congratulations to the 2021 cohort – one of which has been acquired already! The DATA accelerator demo day was a superb event with more than 50 people attending, two thirds of which were investors. It is so exciting to see young companies with such fantastic ideas, expertise and potential engaging with investors. At SBC, we are committed to enabling life science companies to connect, grow and succeed at every stage of their development, and we are looking forward to watching them as they move to the next level.”

Noor Shaker, CEO and Founder of Glamorous AI, commented, “Before being acquired by X-Chem, Glamorous AI took part in SBC’s DATA accelerator programme. Through the programme we have been able to expand our network and attend expert talks by thought leaders in the pharma and biotech industry.”

Fiona Nielsen, Chief Operations Officer at o2h Technology, said, “As a data entrepreneur myself, and looking from the perspective of o2h Ventures, I can say that I was really impressed with the quality of the companies taking part in SBC’s DATA programme. The application of data analytics to drug discovery is a fast-paced growth area and it’s fantastic to see SBC taking the lead in nurturing the next generation of start-ups at the cutting edge of drug discovery. Our team at o2h has really enjoyed supporting the programme and seeing these companies grow and thrive.”

Dr Hugo Villanueva, Innovation and Business Development Director at SBC, said, “We are absolutely delighted that the DATA accelerator programme has been so well received. We have had tremendous support from our wider community and would like to thank everyone involved for their expertise and for providing access to their networks which have opened doors for these 15 talented start-ups.”

The successful participants selected to take part were:

  • BigOmics Analytics – empowering biologists to perform complex analysis and visualisation by themselves using a self-service analytics platform
  • biotx.ai – using novel, state of the art, machine learning approaches specifically designed to find complex patterns in biomedical data
  • Enedra Therapeutics – harnessing the power of synthetic lethality and advanced computational Systems Biology to create therapeutics that work against the complexity, biological and mutational heterogeneity of cancer
  • Exogene – accelerating the discovery of T-cell-receptor (TCR)-based cancer immunotherapies for solid tumours by combining deep learning and high-throughput TCR-antigen screening
  • Glamorous AI – focusing on the discovery of novel chemistry for challenging targets, where no or only a few binders are known, enabling first-in-class therapeutics on stalled or novel targets
  • Human Centric Drug Discovery – using a unique combination of human data from electronic health records, human-derived stem cell models, and human genomic sequencing to show which drug targets and drugs are more likely to work
  • iLoF – enabling a new era of personalised medicine, by using AI and photonics to build a cloud-based library of diseases biomarkers and biological profiles
  • Kantify – developing ZeptoNet – a novel AI technology that can perform in silico high-throughput screening on small molecules
  • Micrographia Bio – focusing on applying machine learning to microscopy, this is a next generation life sciences company
  • Oppilotech – using models to simulate biological processes in order to identify viable drug targets and discover new biology
  • Opvia – providing the first flexible, open platform built for scientists. Structured experimental data, analytics and lab management all in one place
  • Rahko – making drug discovery faster and cheaper today with quantum-inspired machine learning and vastly more powerful and accurate with quantum computing
  • Solvemed Group – leveraging proprietary machine learning technology to develop novel diagnostic-predictive digital biomarkers to enable first-in-class, accurate, early and cost-effective diagnostic and monitoring tools
  • Svastia Genetics – offering clinical decision support for cancer treatment selection and relapse prediction. Its oncology knowledgebase, novel clinical genomic data, and genetic analysis workflows empower clinical trial design, patient selection and stratification
  • Vivan Therapeutics – generating fruit fly avatars of patients incorporating tumourigenic mutations. They evaluate approved drugs to identify drug combinations that significantly improve mortality in the avatar population. They then present the drug combinations to a tumour board who make the best treatment recommendation for the patient.

To find out more about SBC’s DATA accelerator programme and the 2021 cohort, visit https://www.stevenagecatalyst.com/data/