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March 2014                         

Bioscience Enterprise Programme Entrepreneurs International Success in the Breast Cancer Startup Challenge

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 on 5th March 2014, along with the other winners and finalists, by the Avon Foundation for Women, in partnership with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI).  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, one device, one vaccine, one delivery system and one 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. of NCI. 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, also of NCI.  The winners in the Breast Cancer Startup Challenge will not only be recognized 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 institutionalised 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.”

 “We are looking forward to start-ups launching around these inventions to accelerate breast cancer research and break the mold of how research is funded,” said Marc Hurlbert, Ph.D. executive director, Avon Foundation for Women.  “This new approach, through our partnership with NCI and CAI, will help translate promising inventions from the academic laboratory to development and commercialization, and ultimately benefit breast cancer patients.”

December 2013

Visiting Scholar from Nepal

Dr Sumesh Khanal is usually based at the Institute of Medicine in Kathmandu, Nepal, however in recent months he has been sponsored by Costello Medical Consulting to undertake an internship in Cambridge. During his time as a Visiting Scholar at the Institute of Biotechnology and with expert guidance from the Costello team, Sumesh has investigated the factors critical to the successful implementation of telemedicine systems in developing countries such as Nepal, and whether there is evidence to suggest telemedicine can really improve the problem of access to healthcare and cost of healthcare delivery in rural areas of low-income countries. In January, Sumesh will return to Nepal to pursue his medical career. He aspires to specialise in public health with a particular focus on the opportunities telemedicine offers for patients residing in remote and inaccessible regions of the country.

 Costello’s over-arching charitable aim in hosting this, the first in what will be a series of internships, is to assist the delivery of effective healthcare globally by applying the company’s knowledge to public health issues. The company, co-founded by Sophie Costello, an alumna of the Master’s in Bioscience Enterprise (MBE) programme in 2002-03, specialises in evidence-based medicine, medical communication and health economics. It now employs 45 people and has recently moved to larger premises on Hills Road, Cambridge. Professor Chris Lowe, Director of the MBE course, states “It is extremely gratifying to collaborate with one of our past students and her staff in such an effective programme, where knowledge and expertise has been disseminated to real effect through the training offered to Dr Khanal. We wish him every success as his project takes shape in Nepal, and thank him for the insights he has provided to us during his time at the Institute and with the Costello team”.


August 2013

Bioscience Enterprise Company ‘ Desktop Genetics’ Attracts  Substantial Investment

Desktop Genetics Ltd (DeskGen), a UK bioinformatics company aiming to revolutionize the way genetic engineers work together, recently announced that it has secured an equity investment of £275,000. DeskGen ( was founded by MBE graduates Riley Doyle, Victor Dillard and Edward Perello whilst completing their MPhil in Bioscience Enterprise at the Institute of Biotechnology. The investment comes from Boundary Capital Ltd,Execute Technologies Inc, and angel investors Richard Youngman, Michael Martin (both of Anvil Partners LLP), Dr Jonathan Milner (CEO, AbCam Plc) and Dr Darrin M Disley (CEO, Horizon Discovery Ltd), a Biotechnology alumnus and former PhD student of Professor Chris Lowe, and who is a great supporter of the Department.

The investment unlocks a Technology Strategy Board grant for an additional £100,000, bringing the total funds raised to £375,000. DeskGen has also announced the appointment of Dr Darrin Disley as non-executive chairman.


June 2013 MBE

End of Year Celebrations and Awards

As is the tradition, the Master’s in Bioscience Enterprise (MBE) students’ studies concluded in late June with a formal Symposium held at The Nucleus, Chesterford Research Park and a celebration Dinner. The Symposium was the culmination of three months internship in the life sciences commercial sector. This activity is designed to complement the more theoretical aspects of the course and the projects addressed, and which students’ presented at the Symposium, typically reflect a great breadth of commercial interests. This year was no exception, with placements hosted by pharmaceutical companies (for example Takeda Cambridge, Pfizer Neusentis and MedImmune), business consultancies (PopeWoodhead Associates, Access Partnership, IMS Consulting) and biotech firms (Horizon Discovery, Bicycle Therapeutics, Arecor, Kymab).

Together with Dr Simon Barnes, External Examiner, Chris Lowe presented Dr Darryl Gibbings-Isaac, Dr Maria Maldonado and Nadia Jesus Perez with certificates in recognition of their attainment of MPhil with Distinction. Darryl was also presented with the RSA Dissertation Excellence Award for his dissertation, conducted with Applied Strategies Consulting in California.


March 2013

MBE Programme Boston Biotech Study Tour


June 2012

End of Year Celebrations and Awards


March 2012  

MBE Programme Boston Biotech Study Tour

At the conclusion of two terms of hard study, it was a very cheerful and enthusiastic party of students and staff that made the MBE programme’s annual pilgrimage to Boston. Amonst many visits and tours, particular interest was stimulated by an in-depth discussiSon with Dr Dan Robertson of Joule Unlimited. The company is currently implementing its promising Helioculture Platform technology on a massive scale. Dr Kate Sheldon invited the group to visit Courtagen, providing a tour of the pristine Protein Diagnostics Division, which had just been granted regulatory approval to offer mitochondrial DNA testing services to patients. Finally, updates at Agamatrix were provided by two Institute of Biotechnology alumni, co-founders Dr Sridhar Iyengar and Dr Richard Williams. Agamatrix recently gained FDA approval for the only iPhone-compatible glucose measurement accessory. is product has earned the company a global marketing deal with Sanofi and can now be purchased over-the-counter. e participating students returned to Cambridge, UK very much wiser about the ways to bring advances in science and technology to commercial fruition.We take this opportunity to acknowledge the legendary American hospitality that we received during our visit.