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Bio-start Awards 2017

  • Posted on 17 July

Bio-start awards over £100K in zero-equity prizes to 6 high-impact start-ups

Bio-start celebrates UK innovative start-ups with commercial ideas that will solve some of the world’s biggest problems. Bio-start attracted applications from across the UK to take part in the 10-week accelerator programme. 15 start-up companies were selected to take part in Bio-start and after 10-weeks participation in the programme, 5 of the best were chosen to pitch in front of an invited audience and judges at the Bio-start Awards.

“From preventing blindness to eco-friendly dying method, the winning start-ups represent the best and the brightest of the UK’s vibrant synthetic biology start-up ecosystem.” said Stephen Chambers, CEO of SynbiCITE, one of the sponsors of Bio-start. “In its first year, Bio-start has exceeded all our expectations, thanks in large part to the community of mentors, advisors and sponsors who all recognise the importance of helping early stage companies.”

The prizes were announced on Thursday night at the first annual Bio-start Awards, sponsored by SynbiCITE and Rainbow Seed Fund, which brought together an audience of over 100 leaders from the synthetic biology and entrepreneurial community to the Imperial College Business School in London. The event featured on-stage pitches by the top 5 start-ups from the accelerator programme; a keynote from Sean Ward, founder of Synthace; and remarks from Sir Richard Sykes, former Chairman of GSK and head of the judging panel. Other judges included, Dr Hayaatun Sillem, Deputy CEO & Director of Strategy at the Royal Academy of Engineering; Tony Hickson, Managing Director Imperial Innovations; and Oliver Sexton, Investment Director at Rainbow Seed Fund.

The winner of the 2017 Bio-start Awards are:

Growth Awards

  • CustoMem: Removal of micro-pollutants in water
  • Colorifix: Eco-friendly dyeing of fabrics
  • Quethera: Gene therapy for blindness

Lab Space Awards

  • Zentraxa: Therapeutic peptide production

Equipment Award

  • BioTangents: Tricorder for farm animals

Innovation Award

  • Phytoform Labs: Genomic Editing

The original goal for Bio-start, when it was set up a year ago by SynbiCITE and Rainbow Seed Fund was to offer a an UK-wide, equity-free accelerator programme to support early-stage start-up companies using synthetic biology with mentorship, networking and entrepreneurial training. Recent reports claim there are now 163 accelerators across the UK, with more than 45 new accelerators being set up in 2016 alone. There are over 25 accelerators in London, offering early-stage companies the opportunity to participate in a programme lasting a few months, in which they obtain mentorship, office space and funding, usually in exchange for equity in the start-up. Despite the rapid growth of accelerators across the UK very few are designed to address the unique needs of the synthetic biology start-ups and it was this void that Bio-start wanted to fill.