A London-based startup tackling Parkinson’s with new medicines to prevent neurodegeneration and a Utah-based company developing a surgical device to allow complete healing of ligament and tendon injuries have each claimed £100k/$150k non-dilutive funding and free lab space for six months, after winning top-place in respectively the Europe and Americas streams of OneStart, a global accelerator programme aimed at helping young healthcare and life science entrepreneurs build sustainable, commercially viable businesses.
Keregen won OneStart Europe 2015 with a molecular technology that has the potential to slow or even stop the progression of Parkinson’s by preserving quality, preventing degeneration and promoting longevity in cells. Keregen’s science was originally developed at University College London.
Ligadon won OneStart Americas 2015 with a biodegradable implant to eliminate surgical failures in repairing ligament and tendon injuries and prevent muscle atrophy by reducing the need for post-operative immobilisation. Ligadon’s device was developed outside of academia by CEO and founder Dr Dolly Holt.
Left to right - Keregen: Hervé Guyon, Dr Geoffrey Wells (Advisor), Dr Jemma Gatliff, Christoph Dietrich , Nick Georgakopoulos; OBR: Daniel Perez (OneStart judge); Ligadon: Derek Jewell, Dr Dolly Holt, Phil Casper; SR One: Matthew Foy (OneStart judge)
The two startups’ success follows an intense five-month training and mentoring programme culminating in last fortnight’s pitching events to investors and industry experts in London for the OneStart Europe finalists and San Francisco for the OneStart Americas finalists. The 20 finalist startups were winnowed from an initial pool of over 630 healthcare startups from across the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific.
Describing both the funding and the mentoring as “the starting catalyst Keregen needs”, Dr Jemma Gatliff, acting CEO, says:
“The Keregen team has learned so much about the complexities of entrepreneurship, which are particularly challenging in the life sciences. The experience has equipped us with a broad understanding of the industry, the hurdles we may face, and the importance of a robust development plan. Without our mentors, Ilan Zipkin of Takeda Ventures and David Phillips of SR One, we couldn't have achieved so much in such a short space of time. The OneStart prize will enable us to obtain our first in vivo proof-of-principle, a key step to help us raise the necessary funding to move our company further forward.”
Dr Dolly Holt, CEO and founder of Ligadon, adds:
“OneStart’s guidance helped us focus our business plan in a streamlined path that would be efficient and efficacious. They've helped us identify what our precise next steps should be and provided the funding to enable us to achieve them. Our immediate next steps will be to produce devices on a larger scale and conduct biomechanical and in vivo validations, in order to complete the validations necessary to get into the clinic.
“This program identified some of the most talented industry executives and entrepreneurs to serve as mentors for each team. We had two great mentors, Colleen Cutcliffe of Whole Biome Inc. and Eric Soller of McKinsey & Co., who each spent significant time with us over the course of 7 weeks to help us hone our business strategies, plans and presentations. The multistep process of OneStart enables participants to build their business plans in a stepwise fashion that is very manageable and allows for unparalleled fine tuning compared to any other competition we’ve been involved in. OneStart truly is an exceptional healthcare accelerator programme.”
Set up in 2013 by SR One and the Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable (OBR) to tackle the obstacles faced by young entrepreneurs aiming to get their healthcare innovation to market, OneStart has a strong track record of seeding new companies, with over 40 entrants in the previous two years going on to raise financing between £75k to £3.5M thanks to the contacts and support of the programme.
Matthew Foy, Partner at SR One and OneStart judge, who has been deeply involved in the organisation of OneStart since its inaugural year, says:
“The science that goes on in Europe is fantastic, but very little of it ever gets translated into a company, and ergo a product that actually helps patients. We founded OneStart with the Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable to stimulate the environment to become more entrepreneurial. For me, the most satisfying thing about OneStart is witnessing the growth of each of these start-up teams from when we first read their applications to seeing them pitch confidently and professionally at the finals.”
Daniel Perez, founder and CEO of the Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable and OneStart judge, adds:
“OneStart is dedicated to young bio-entrepreneurs, especially those from academia, who can disproportionately benefit from the extensive network of industry advisors and investors that they are connected with via the programme. The immense support given by OneStart mentors and partners is what makes this accelerator so unique and successful - we founded OneStart with SR One to kick-start each of these nascent start-ups with decades of experience in commercialising early-stage innovation.”
This competition for entrepreneurs under the age of 36 is supported by a range of partners including Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Takeda Ventures, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GSK, McKinsey & Company, Roche, MedCity, AstraZeneca, Silicon Valley Bank, Forresters, and Olswang, who act as mentors and advisors throughout the OneStart programme.
Dr Tom Luby, Senior Director, New Ventures, Johnson & Johnson Innovation and OneStart judge, commented:
“A number of Johnson & Johnson Innovation employees participated as mentors in this years OneStart competition, and we were all impressed with the quality of the ideas, the enthusiasm of the teams, and the development of the business plans. OneStart has created a unique ecosystem for young entrepreneurs and experienced industry professionals to have very productive interactions. We look forward to monitoring the progress of the teams and believe OneStart has provided them with a differentiated opportunity to launch a successful start-up.”
Dr Ilan Zipkin, Senior Investment Director at Takeda Ventures, OneStart judge and mentor of Keregen, says:
“I have been incredibly impressed with the professional growth shown by the OneStart teams throughout the process and through the finalists’ presentations. In particular, the dedication and effort from the winning teams to capture this opportunity has been inspiring. I’m honoured and proud to have had the chance to work with them and look forward to their continued success.”
OneStart was founded by the Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable, a start-up advancing early-stage innovation with tens of thousands of academic and industry members, and SR One, GSK’s venture capital arm. OneStart is open to startups around the world with an idea to improve human health in any way. There are two parallel competition streams: Americas for North and South American teams, and Europe for the rest of the world. All OneStart co-founders must be aged 35 or under, and must not have received more than £100k dilutive funding. Almost 650 startups applied to OneStart 2015 globally, tripling from 2014. Find out more at onestart.co
Keregen has a 4-person management team consisting of Jemma Gatliff (Acting CEO), a postdoctoral researcher who recently obtained her PhD in Cell Biology from the University of London, Nikolaos Georgakopoulos (Acting CSO), a PhD student in Chemical Biology at UCL, Hervé Guyon (Acting CFO) currently working for Societe Generale, and Christoph Dietrich (Business Strategy), an advisor to institutional investors at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Ligadon is a 3-person team consisting of Dolly Holt (CEO & Founder), who completed her PhD in Bioengineering at the University of Utah, Phil Casper (COO), who studied Public Health and Business at Brigham Young University, and Derek Jewell, who is an R&D Engineer at BD Biosciences and studied Bioengineering at the University of Utah.
About the Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable
The Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable (OBR) is a start-up advancing early-stage innovation with tens of thousands of academic and industry members. OBR founded OneStart together with SR One in order to unlock and facilitate latent entrepreneurship in younger scientists. By marrying generous financial support with deep industry experience OBR hopes that OneStart sets many dozens of companies in motion each year, each positively impacting patients’ lives. Find out more at oxbridgebiotech.com
About SR One
SR One is the corporate venture capital arm of GSK. The firm invests globally in emerging life science companies that are pursuing innovative science with significant impact on medical care. SR One has invested over $830 million in the biotech space. SR One teamed up with the Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable (OBR) because of their shared missions of catalysing entrepreneurship. Together with OBR, SR One firmly believes that they can have a positive impact on human health by supporting visionary founders, with OneStart as a vehicle to that end. Find out more at srone.com