Last week we hosted the BrisSynBio 4-Day MBA, delivered in partnership with SynbiCITE. The course is in its second year and is designed for budding entrepreneurs, from postgraduates to seasoned academics, who want to start a synthetic biology-rich business in the biotechnology or life sciences sectors. The final day was the BrisSynBio Connect event, this year held at the Watershed, where the teams pitched their ideas to a panel of investors, entrepreneurs and industry experts.
The intensive programme included four days of training in the event space at Unit DX, with sessions from experienced industry professionals, Simon Bennett of Simon Bennett Associates, John Collins of SynbiCITE and a number of others qualified speakers and mentors. The 27 participants formed into nine teams, some with new ideas and others based on existing biotech start-ups.
The feedback from the course could hardly have been better. We spoke to a couple of the participants about their experience. Alex Van De Steen, who joined Imophoron for the duration of the MBA, said “It was exhilarating, despite the 12-13 hour days. I really enjoyed the pace, structure and the way that the amount of value stems from how much you put in. I would definitely recommend it to BSc and Masters students.”
Day One – Setting the scene
- Talk from an established spin-out
- Workshops on IP, company registration, funding options and business plan preparation
- Working dinner with a panel of guest speakers discussing funding and due diligence
Day Two – Getting up and running
- Sources of finance
- EIS and SEIS
- Early-stage operational strategy considerations
- Business plans
- Working dinner with guest speaker Prof Martin Sadler, Special Advisor to the VC on Industrial Strategy at the University of Bristol, on pitching and communications
Day Three – Executing and preparing for commercial success
- Communications strategy
- Business development and licensing strategies
- Leadership development
- Working dinner with guest speaker Alison Gray, Founder and Director at Skillfluence – networking masterclass
Day Four – Preparing for commercial success – facing the investor challenge.
The morning of day four was spent preparing and refining pitches for the afternoon’s pitching session.
The Connect event rounded up the four days of training and put the entrepreneurs in front of a panel of real biotech investors and a crowd of 78 academics, entrepreneurs and local industry representatives. This was followed up by presentations from established Bristol start-ups and an opportunity to network with other people working in the industry. The standard of the pitches was very high, and some fascinating technology was presented.
The judging panel consisted of Jaci Barnett, Senior Investment and Commercialisation Manager at the University of Bristol, Shelley Goodwin, Senior Brand Strategist at CDM London, Harry Destecroix, Director and Co-founder of Ziylo and Unit DX, and David Tew, Senior Fellow at GSK.
First Prize – Vitamica
Vitamica have developed a patented imaging technology that measures biological activity at the cellular level and has the potential to allow for fast, point-of-care screening of bacteria to help doctors select the right antibiotics. The technique could provide significantly faster results than those currently available and help in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.
Charlotte Bermingham, CTO at Vitamica, said “The BrisSynBio MBA course was really well organised and engaging, and gave us confidence that we can build up a business from our research, as well as where to find help along the way. The course ended with a pitching event, which was fantastic experience and gives us more confidence to pitch to investors, something that is very relevant for us at the moment.”
£2000 to be used towards business costs
£2000 to be used at Unit DX
Second Prize – Imophoron
Imophoron’s technology is based on a disruptive new nature-inspired scaffold, called the ADDomer. It’s derived from a component of human Adenovirus, which spontaneously forms the ADDomer, a very stable superparticle. Imophoron are using synthetic biology techniques to develop this scaffold into a versatile platform, which is scalable, stable at room temperatures, and devoid of any genetic material.
Fred Garzoni, Co-founder of Imophoron, commented “Any entrepreneur in the field should start with the 4-Day MBA. If I had followed the course at the very beginning of my activity, I would have saved so much time and would have avoided some mistakes.”
£2000 to be used towards business costs
Closest to Market – Imophoron
Imophoron picked up two prizes as the panel also considered them to be the closest to getting a product to market.
£2000 for 10 hours of company branding work with marketing expert Shelley Goodwin
Best Pre-incorporation Pitch – Exom Biotech
Exom Biotech are a UCL spin-out developing a drug delivery system, targeting companies who want to revisit failed drug candidates. They will offer licensing packages for patented cell lines, customised for the production of exosomes.
£2000 prize to use scientific facilities at BrisSynBio
For more information on the 4-Day MBA, please visit the BrisSynBio website here.