The winning team, left to right: Alasdair Thong, Hind Kraytem, Grecia Gonzalez, Nikolaus Wenzl and Tim Xu. Click on the image to view it full screen.
Ten winning teams in a world-wide competition, including two with Master’s in Bioscience Enterprise (MBE) postgrads student members, will help bring emerging breast cancer research technologies to market faster. The MBE students’ success was announced along with the other winners and finalists by the Avon Foundation for Women, in partnership with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the USA National Institutes of Health, and the Center for Advancing Innovation. Avon has provided $250,000 in funding for this Challenge.
The Breast Cancer Startup Challenge focused on 10 research technologies judged to show great promise to advance breast cancer research that have been developed at NCI and at an Avon Foundation-funded university lab. The technologies included therapeutics, diagnostics, prognostics, a device, a vaccine, a delivery system and a health IT invention. Teams evaluated these technologies to create business plans and will in the near future start new companies to develop and commercialise them. Two hundred teams expressed an interest in joining the challenge and 46 teams from across the globe were accepted, with a total of 478 competition participants, making this one of the largest global university business plan challenges to date.
The business plan winners from the MBE course were Nikolaus Wenzl, Hind Kraytem and Alasdair Thong, who developed a plan based on a ‘Diagnostic from Biopsies with Software Analysis’, a technology invented by Dr Tom Misteli. Also, Jun-Han Su who participated in a Cambridge team addressing ‘A Versatile Delivery Method for Cancer Therapeutics’, the lead inventors of which are Drs Stanislaw J. Kaczmarczyk and Deb Chatterjee. The winners in the Breast Cancer Startup Challenge will not only be recognised for creating a business plan and pitch, as other competitions require, but they will also be invited to launch a start-up, negotiate licensing agreements and raise seed funding to further develop these NCI and Avon Foundation grantee inventions.
"Today, progress in breast cancer research depends on step-change advances in technology and on paradigm-shifting strategies to rapidly bring these advances to market so they can be used by scientists and physician," said Rosemarie Truman, founder and CEO, CAI. "Thanks to the Avon Foundation and the National Cancer Institute, CAI has been able to identify potentially breakthrough technologies that harness the intelligence, experience and creativity of the innovative thinkers in the challenge. The challenge has exceeded expectations and we are thrilled with the results. We believe that this is a novel, sustainable model that can be employed to commercialise federally-owned inventions and philanthropically-funded inventions, that will accelerate and increase the volume of progress in research and ultimately save the lives of many women stricken by breast cancer. We are grateful for the support we’ve received from the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the White House, the Association of University Technology Managers and the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers that have helped us jump-start the program launch and continue to assist us in gaining adoption for this program."
Further, a third group of aspiring entrepreneurs from the Bioscience Enterprise course for the second year in succession scooped the Pembroke College Parmee Prize for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise. The 2014 entrants, Max Jamilly, Ian Goon, Lauren Machin and Premal Kamdar, have plans to develop a wearable technology device. Following the awards ceremony, the group are invited to participate in another international business plan competition in California in April.