Accelerate@Babraham selects its next set of science superstars!


Six life science start-ups looking to develop products and services to make a positive difference to healthcare have been selected for one of Europe’s top incubators based at the Babraham Research Campus in Cambridge – Accelerate@Babraham.

The package of support on offer which includes a year’s free lab space, £10k funding and access to an unrivalled network of experts, mentors and investors is always hotly contested and this year was no exception with the selection panel impressed by the strength of extremely high-quality applications.

Introducing the 2024 cohort

Six ventures made the cut this year, they are:

Athernal is developing new vaccines designed to lower the risk of cancer and other age-related diseases. Its approach focuses on targeting early indicators of cancer with novel vaccine techniques to eliminate them, aiming to improve patient outcomes.

- enstic is dedicated to transforming the understanding and management of insect populations through innovative sensor-based devices to provide real-time, data-driven insights into ecological impacts and health risks they cause.

- Ephyra is developing an innovative sponge RNA technology that targets microRNA disease drivers to restore cellular health during disease.

- The New Platelet Company manufactures universal platelets for transfusion from induced pluripotent stem cells to add to the supply of platelets from donors, which is not sufficient to treat all patients at risk of bleeding.

- OvartiX is a women's health drug discovery company that harnesses large-scale human multi-omics data, state-of-the-art cell engineered and animal models to identify, validate and develop next-generation therapeutics for female reproductive disorders.

- U-Ploid biotechnologies ltd develops next-generation IVF therapeutics for treating female infertility by improving the egg quality within the IVF cycle, generating more eggs capable of supporting a healthy pregnancy.

While addressing the participants as part of the bootcamp stage of the accelerator Babraham Research Campus CEO Derek Jones said: “The connections you make at this stage of your entrepreneurial journey will set you in good stead for your future. You’re absolutely - according to the evidence we have - in the best place to have the greatest likelihood of success anywhere in the UK if not Europe.”

That sentiment certainly hit home for the co-founder of National University of Singapore spin-out Ephyra, Lavenniah Annadoray, who said: “We wanted to come here because it’s the right ecosystem to be in. The mentors, the investors, they’re all here and there’s a great entrepreneurial attitude.” 

Derek’s inspirational introductory talk also highlighted the breadth of talent on Campus and shared success stories from previous participants including Creasallis and BugBiome, both of whom have now taken space at Babraham Research Campus to further their development.

Other bootcamp sessions included Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) who shared details of what needs to be considered when it comes to taking an idea to market and how the MDC team can support that process. In addition, Innovate UK gave details of the different funding opportunities available and how it can help with pitching panels and signposting to grants.  


An evolving programme, unique to each cohort

Now in its sixth year the programme, supported by a number of strategic partners and with teaching and learning activities from the likes of Triple Chasm and Medicines Discovery Catapult, adapts each cycle to build on previous success.

Accelerate@Babraham’s strong reputation precedes it, with each cohort company mentioning that hearing of the achievements of previous participants had been a factor in their decision to apply. enstic co-founder Jess Stokes said: “The package of support is phenomenal. The location’s fantastic, it’s a prestigious Campus and with the backing of BBSRC you know that what you’re getting is quality.”

While her fellow enstic co-founder Freddy Sarathchandra described the bootcamp stage as feeling like they had ‘progressed three months in three days’.

New to the cohort this year are five Campus/BBSRC Collaborative Training Partnership PhD students. As part of their PhD Programme the students will shadow the cohort to give them valuable insight across both academia and industry. Anna Dowd who is working with the campus company Artios on her PhD said: “We’re all in the very early stages of our careers, and it’s a great opportunity to be part of the process and experience what goes into starting up a company before we potentially do it ourselves. And it’s really inspiring to see so many women in the group.”

Another exciting addition to the initiative this year is the support of Novo Nordisk. The global healthcare company joins AstraZeneca, BioMed Realty, Eisai, Kidney Research UK and Lifearc as a new strategic partner, adding further clout to the package provided.

Vice President, Innovation Outreach Global Drug Discovery, Daniel B Timmermann explains why: “Accelerate@Babraham is a unique opportunity to tap into the world class Cambridge ecosystem and the top-class science coming out of Babraham Research Campus. The programme is exciting as a means to support translation of high impact science.”

Accelerate@Babraham Programme Manager Jenny Hirst described the quality of this year’s applications as ‘exceptional’. She said: “All the founders are eager to make the most of the programme and the enthusiasm is already palpable. It's going to be an exciting journey and we're very much looking forward to nurturing these start-ups to help them develop their companies. We’re extremely grateful to all the organisations and individuals involved who make the programme possible."

As for what the companies participating this year hope to achieve at the end of the programme? For the New Platelet Company, it’s ‘a patent filed and £2m investment’. With the power-house package of Accelerate@Babraham behind them that is a definite possibility.

To find out more:


Group pic caption:

The Accelerate@Babraham 2024 cohort, from left, Krishnaa Mahbubani (The New Platelet Company), Marloes Tijssen (The New Platelet Company), Lavenniah Annadoray (Ephyra), Jess Stokes (enstic), Programme Manager Jenny Hirst, Staša Stanković (OvartiX), Alexandre Webster (U-Ploid biotechnologies ltd), Freddy Sarathchandra (enstic), Nirupa Desai (Athernal), Caroline Haegeman (Athernal), Ieuan Walker (Athernal).