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Cancer Research UK boost entrepreneurs in science

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by Cancer Research UK | News

25 September 2019

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Cancer Research UK has announced new partnerships with Deep Science Ventures and Panacea to kick-start the charity’s first initiative to promote entrepreneurship.

“Our new Entrepreneurial Programmes Initiative is a first for Cancer Research UK, with our aim being to drive entrepreneurship in cancer research, transforming more ideas into lifesaving medicines for patients.” – Tony Hickson, Cancer Research UK’s chief business officer

The partnerships will progress two business accelerator programmes, providing support and education to early career researchers, helping to transform innovative ideas from within the cancer research community into viable companies that can one day benefit patients.

Cancer Research UK’s new Entrepreneurial Programmes Initiative aims to promote the development of new business ventures within academia by providing researchers with the guidance and tools to translate their research.

Tony Hickson, Cancer Research UK’s chief business officer, said: “Our new Entrepreneurial Programmes Initiative is a first for Cancer Research UK, with our aim being to drive entrepreneurship in cancer research, transforming more ideas into lifesaving medicines for patients.

“With the extensive expertise and guidance of our new partners, we can nurture a new generation of scientific entrepreneurs and encourage innovation at the interface of academia and industry.”

The partnership with Deep Science Ventures will see Cancer Research UK co-fund a one-year programme, where researchers are invited to explore areas of oncology in need of translational progress. At least three successful applicants will be further supported to investigate key problem areas in oncology.  

After a promising idea has been identified, researchers will form a team with the knowledge and expertise to develop a solution. As the idea progresses, the group will then receive funding to perform proof of concept work and successful groups may form spin-outs.

Dr Mark Hammond, founding director of Deep Science Ventures, said: “The field of oncology is a good example of how our model could improve the impact of science. While there are incredibly talented people working in the field, the sector still suffers from many of the broader challenges in pharmaceuticals, including the dependence on a linear pathway from grant application to discovery, venture and into the clinic. This partnership allows us to bring together the outstanding research capability of Cancer Research UK’s network with DSV’s model of rapidly exploring the cross-disciplinary potential of science, in order to address the complexity presented by cancer.”

The partnership with Panacea will allow the charity to support a one-year programme, providing researchers with entrepreneurial skills and business support to progress their ideas from lab to company.

Successful applicants will enter a phase of idea generation and refinement, followed by the chance to develop business plans, build pitching expertise, and engage with industry investor experts. The most promising ideas may then receive further funding.*

Mina Bekheet, Panacea’s CEO and founder, said: “The timing has never been better for UK scientists and clinicians within the oncology domain to receive support to further explore the translational potential of their research. Together with Cancer Research UK and a consortium of partners, we are delighted to be at the forefront of joining some of the world’s best minds on their journey to introduce novel solutions to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.”

These two initiatives are open to all UK researchers and represent the first partnerships in the charity’s UK-wide Entrepreneurial Programmes Initiative to provide researchers across the UK with the entrepreneurial training and support required to translate their ideas. It’s hoped these partnerships combined with the planned future expansion plans for the programme will encourage researchers to translate their research into the medicines and diagnostics of tomorrow, helping support Cancer Research UK’s ambition to see 3 out of 4 cancer patients surviving their illness by 2034.

Cancer Research UK will also host a series of Innovation Summits across the UK, where researchers at all career stages can hear from business-minded peers and leading translational specialists. The next summit will take place on 7 October 2019 in Manchester, and will focus on the barriers in translating research and how to overcome them.