Lean LaunchPad for Synthetic Biology Alumni: Where are they now? Part 1

  • Posted on 31 May, 2016
The first in a series examining the graduates of 2015's programme.

Lean LaunchPad teaching faculty:Stephen Chambers & Itxaso del Palacio

Dr Stephen Chambers, CEO SynbiCITE

The entrepreneurial programme Lean Launchpad for Synthetic Biology returns to London this autumn. Now in its second year, this event brings together academic scientists and would-be entrepreneurs working in synthetic biology and exposes them to the rigors of the market place. As we start to recruit new teams for Lean LaunchPad Autumn 2016, I thought I’d follow up on some of our budding entrepreneurs from last year.

Lab Genius entered Lean LaunchPad as a newly formed start-up and exited a focused commercial operation ready to scale its activities. The team identified a value proposition for better-faster-cheaper synthetic DNA libraries for antibody engineering, and a revenue stream – with multiple paying customers (under a fee for service model) – that currently supports five full-time-equivalent staff. With a new patent filed and more IP in development, the future looks promising for Lab Genius. But their journey continues – with plans to raise money to build platform-enabling diversification into the highly lucrative antibody discovery and development therapeutic sector. James Field CEO and Founder of Lab Genius claims ‘the biggest learning from the LLP was customer-led business development… we now make damn sure there is a market for a product before building the underlying tech’.

The recruitment process for Lean LaunchPad teams is a continuous search for technology ready for translation, but also individuals with the ‘right stuff’ to take part in the demanding 10-week programme. One group of aspiring entrepreneurs, ConsultGen, had plenty of the latter right from the start. This enthusiastic team was a diverse mix of medical professionals, software developers, research scientists and an MBA engineer. As is typical of most teams participating in Lean LaunchPad, ConsultGen’s journey of customer discovery was not without its ups and downs. But their ability to really listen to what customers were saying and to change direction said much about them and, especially, their energetic team leader Abdul Shakur Abdullah. A mark of distinction in the Lean LaunchPad programme is getting thrown out of a building (or being asked to leave) in pursuit of a critical customer interview - Shakur was an early recipient of that honour.

Shakur is “…almost certain that ConsultGen would have failed without the Lean LaunchPad Programme”. He added: “Without our exposure to LLP… we would just now be emerging from our basement with our 80-page business plan in hand and a product no one really wanted, waiting for customers to come running to us.” Instead ConsultGen have gone from strength to strength, as a finalist in the 2016 London HealthTech Challenge with commercial collaborations and a growing portfolio of products.

If you are interested in taking part, or want more information on the Lean LaunchPad for Synthetic Biology taking place at Imperial College later this year, please contact me: