Start date: 21st October 2009
End date: 21st October 2009
Location: Chilford Hall, Linto, Cambridge UK
It has been a challenging year for all in the lifescience arena and this has highlighted a need for new scientific and business strategies to exploit emerging technologies. It is appropriate that winners of the 2009 ERBI awards will be announced at Bench2Boardroom, a conference at which representatives from all sectors of the industry will debate the models required to create high growth businesses.
Bench2Boardroom is to be held on October 21st at Chilford Hall, Linton, near Cambridge in the heart of Europe's largest lifescience cluster. It offers the opportunity for specialist suppliers to showcase their services alongside a lively conference which explores developments in three exciting areas - Consumer Electronics in Healthcare; Regenerative Medicine and Drug Re-purposing.
The ERBI awards recognise and reward the most innovative companies in the cluster and last years winners have all made tremendous progress. All agree however that the environment is tough and new approaches are needed in the industry. Many of the entrepreneurs mentioned that collaborative partnering is becoming increasingly popular as it shares risk and promotes creativity.
Stuart Travers of Sentinel Oncology, winner of the 2008 ERBI Innovation Award gave the following advice to others considering a similar journey, "Be flexible and open to exploring new ideas."
"We have learnt a great many things about what it means to own and manage an emerging biotech company over the last few years." He explains: "Due to the pressures faced by the sector, collaborative relationships are becoming more important across both the pharma and contract research sectors.
Sentinel Oncology is developing a new generation of drugs which target regions of tumour cells which have become hypoxic, or deprived of oxygen, making them resistant to radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Its Hypoxia Activated Pro-drugs (HAPs), are demonstrating potential for improving cancer therapy, and Stuart reports that great in-roads have been made in understanding how they work. Sentinel is raising funds to progress through initial trials where Stuart expects to attract commercial partners.
He continues, "It is becoming more likely that potential partners will seek more creative deal terms, and this has certainly become more prominent in our discussions."
Stuart's views are supported by Ian Harris, Chief Executive of Cambridge Cognition (CCL), developers of clinical diagnostic products and winner of the 2008 Export Achievement Award.
"Collaborative development is the only way forward unless you have huge financial muscle," he says. "However, there are also good strategic reasons for this type of approach. It de-risks development and commercialisation and often enables a solution approach rather than an isolated product offering.
"We see the way forward as linking our brand and technology to the brand values of a much larger global partner."
Partnerships with end-user organisations are particularly valuable. Roger Thorpe, MD of Hope Enterprises and winner of the 2008 NHS Partnerships Award, has been conducting hospital trials for PureMesh, the new forecasting software developed by his company to reduce waiting lists for ultrasound scanners. He reports that the trials have been expanded, with one hospital interested in adapting the technology to predict bed availability.
"The General Manager for Performance and Information said that the trust is interested in entering a partnership as there is 'nothing else on the market like this' which of course is an enormous endorsement for us," Roger says.
Barnaby Perks, a Director of ERBI, says that Bench2Boardroom has a firm international perspective with speakers that include William A. Haseltine - internationally renowned for his scientific contribution to cancer and HIV / AIDS research.
"For those not participating in ERBI's mission to the MassBio event at the start of October, Bench2Boardroom provides an opportunity for access to an international audience - the event attracts delegates from 14 countries," comments Barnaby. "An important part of our remit is to operate in a global arena and to provide door-opening opportunities for award winners as well as other ERBI members."
This approach has been welcomed by members.
Stuart Travers comments, "Maintaining a global presence is important for all companies who need to access worldwide markets for their products. As a small biotech company, this can pose a significant challenge. As a member, it is going to be extremely helpful that ERBI will be focusing its efforts in the international arena, and we will be on hand to help and take advantage of opportunities as they emerge."
There are 4 ERBI Award Categories this year and the entry deadline has been extended to 7th October 2009.
- Innovation - sponsored by the HealthTech and Medicines KTN
- Export Achievement - sponsored by East of England International
- NHS Partnership - sponsored by NHS East of England
- Start-Up - sponsored by EEDA