Making science deliver: BioHub – an outstanding new Incubator
BioHub has been assiduously building programmes of support and development for research based businesses. Other centres of science in the UK must follow this lead. To follow: Who and what makes a successful incubator
BioHub, a new Life Sciences Incubator at Alderley Park, won the accolade of Biotech Incubator of the Year last year.
BioHub’s new Director, Ned Wakeman, has taken BioCity’s emphasis on the growing of its businesses to new levels. What makes it so special?
He has focused on creating and evolving a culture of development:
- Getting collaborative support from related experts and serial entrepreneurs.
- Focussing the businesses in the incubator on factors that make for business success – by introducing them to the well-recognised Business Model Canvas (Incubator Manager).
- Introducing them to a programme of business development specialised to science-based SMEs that has become popular in the US – the I-Corps programme (Accelerator Manager) see http://wp.me/p3beJt-av.
- Building a large cohort of experts to help and advise on each business’s evolving needs (Mentor Manager).
- Developing BioHub as an outstanding centre of excellence.
He has initiated a North of England Life Science Accelerator (NELSA) in partnership with the N8 universities, the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA), two venture funds (Alderley Park Ventures and Catapult Ventures), MSP, and BioCity.
He is currently working on a new shared risk model of engagement between incubators, large corporates, and Innovate UK, that would address specific unmet needs, co-funded projects, corporate expertise, and structured incubation programmes, housed in the BioHub ecosystem to support their development. And he is helping to building education and routes to finance.
The BioHub is currently home to about 200 bioscience businesses (though it will grow as Astra Zeneca moves out more of its staff to Cambridge). Of these almost a quarter are well-established life science enterprises with their own offices; and the rest are young businesses, for which there are excellent hot-desk areas.
Alderley Park is a research centre in transition: owned by the Manchester Science Partnership, until two years ago it was home to Astra Zeneca’s R&D. Its premises have since then been steadily transferred to Manchester Science Park and a lesser portion to BioCity’s new BioHub. (BioCity runs similar incubators in Nottingham and Scotland, at each of which there are also incubators in health, beauty and wellness.)
Ned’s Wakeman’s early career in the US was in bio-science. More recently he has worked in investment banking in London, focusing on bio-science. He is an energetic creater of the community that he envisions, and a formidable presenter; and has a weakness for wanting to deliver the benefits of science as much as to do science itself.
Concerns are regularly expressed that in the UK we fail to exploit the high quality of our research – science for science’s sake, rather than for its impact. The BioHub is a leading example of ways in which research can be turned into products with widespread benefits – by providing all sorts of support for doing so. Harwell, Daresbury and other leaders of science-based research in the UK should be taking similar steps. What stops them?
A long-established university-based incubator that is just now spawning off-spring
With a small residential staff, and access as needed to specialist experts locally, it offers flexible office space and provides services on the premises to small businesses with clearly viable ideas, with readily available support especially on marketing and fundability. Can it deliver support in the future to its new locations? Jan 2016. http://wp.me/p3beJt-c1
She encouraged her students to tackle issues that could have commercial appeal as much as scientific value, and helped them to realise their commercial capabilities as well as produce great science. (Science 12 June 2015) http://wp.me/p3beJt-dw
John Whatmore, June 2017