Start Codon – new biotech accelerator launches in Cambridge
The new venture Start Codon, taking its name appropriately from a key messenger RNA (mRNA) sequence, will identify and recruit high potential companies from across the UK and beyond, in order to draw on the world renown resources of Cambridge’s life sciences cluster to propel them towards a Series A fundraising.
The accelerator says it will be the first in the Cambridge cluster to provide life science start-ups with significant investment, which it claims could reach up to £250,000 ($325,000).
Most UK and European life science start-ups attract a fraction of this total, and generally raise much less start-up capital than US biotechs, one of the factors that holds them back from more rapid development.
Start Codon will have a full-time dedicated team of experienced and active mentors, and office and lab space, to be located at the Milner Therapeutics Institute, part of the new life sciences campus in central Cambridge where AstraZeneca, Cancer Research UK and other leading research organisations are based.
Start Codon aims to invest in and support up to 50 start-up companies over the next five years.
The first five companies to take part in the initiative are now being recruited. Start Codon says it is looking for companies with disruptive innovations which can revolutionise healthcare, with platform technologies underpinned by strong intellectual property, with a particular emphasis on novel therapeutics, diagnostics, medtech and digital health.
The new venture will be led by Dr Jason Mellad, previously CEO of liquid biopsy company Cambridge Epigenetix, while Dr Ian Tomlinson will serve as its chairman.
Dr Tomlinson is also chairman of Apollo Therapeutics and the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst. He is best known for founding Domantis with Sir Gregory Winter, which was acquired by GSK in 2006 for $454m, then becoming a senior VP of business development at GSK.
Keystone investors in the venture include Cambridge Innovation Capital, Babraham Bioscience Technologies, Genentech (Roche’s biotech arm), Dr Ian Tomlinson and Dr Jonathan Milner, co-founder and deputy chairman of antibody research specialists Abcam.