UK science has too few ‘hustlers’


Science has too few ‘hustlers’ Why do we have so few entrepreneurs to help bring the products of our scientific expertise into widespread use? Do places like Harwell and Daresbury do enough to identify and encourage hustlers like some of those about whom I have written (see blelow).        Next week: Synthetic Biology at Imperial helps to launch startup ‘LabGenius’.

 A promoter of collaborations to tackle serious issues Ian Downey at the European Space Agency (ESA) puts consortia together for innovative projects enabled by Satellite technology. To combat the recent sharp rise in Lyme’s Disease he had brought together researchers into malaria in Africa and in the UK, GPs and hospitals in Scotland, and pharmaceutical companies – in a project funded by the ESA at Harwell.

A lab head and product developer At MIT 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; and went on in the same style to found her own lab in the far east, whence came lots more startups. (Science 12 June 2015)

 Rolling out innovations: the Space Catapult Subverting concerns that in the UK we fail to exploit our technical leads, the Space Catapult is charting new applications for satellites and facilitating path-finding initiatives in technology, markets and finance. June 2015 (

 Advancing the development of synthetic biology  SynbiCITE ( is an ‘Innovation and Knowledge Centre’ several of which were established in the last few years to develop emerging technologies that have the potential to become major industries. Synthetic Biology – creating manufacturable agents by digitally engineering their biology – is in its very early stages: the Centre is still in the process of identifying commercialisable challenges (such as in chemicals, advanced materials, energy, health and environmental protection.) But even in these very early stages, it has already managed to spawn several startups, of which LabGenius is one – a business which is selling DNA to biotech and pharma for drug development (see next week.)

Steve Blank’s I-Corps Biotech Boot Camp Hallowed publication ‘Nature’ reported on a nine-week ‘Biotech Boot Camp’ in the US, funded by the National Institutes of Health, which aims to get entrepreneurial scientists to get out there and ask potential customers what they want.

John Whatmore, December 2016



Building Open Innovation in Bioscience


Building the Stevenage Bioscience community  An Open Innovation brand is developing – nurturing innovation

SBC is a ground-breaking Incubator, located beside a big pharma, designed to enhance time to market – by encouraging contact with the wide variety of sources of help that it musters.

First and foremost we are about changing attitudes and cultures in both academia and industry, from small to large organizations – getting them both to recognize that there is another way of developing and translating research in the life sciences, and early engagement through partnership, collaboration, and even open innovation that might just make a difference in commercialising an opportunity.  We are all striving for a model that enhances time to market in an optimal way for those innovations that tick the faster, better, cheaper boxes, so why not take a different approach?

Open Innovation, as with all innovation approaches, is truly a contact sport – our tenants are actually engaging in early stage collaboration activities of all sizes with little or no money exchanging hands. Activities include regular tenant coffee morning meetings to speak and engage, more formal “SBC Connect” events where one can present to a GSK R&D audience, joint poster sessions, and information sessions about how to access GE’s latest cell technologies (as well as antibody production and analytical platforms) on site.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       “Why not talk to Suki from Labstract about access to Chemistry and Biology related platforms in the Community zone? Did you hear we have a FACS Arria on site for flow cytometry analysis?  Do you think we should have a seminar in our series of science seminars around cell therapies? Our tenant meetings are great!  You want to access our Expert’s Panel for discussions around your business plan? You want us to introduce you to Chris at Syncona or Louis at Kurma? You need Barbara Domayne-Hayman, our Entrepreneur in Residence, to help write a grant funding application or advise on your current approach to market? Is Christina Patino (our Business Development Executive) able to find you a technical expert through her University contacts?” Questions from tenants and partners on how to access hi-spec equipment through Labstract, how to reach an expert to provide feedback on a business plan, or how to get an introduction to one of our VC partners are all welcome, [though apparently there are no mentors assigned to tenants.]

Now, precedent has been set that if you build an Incubator and Accelerator next to one of the biggest Pharma in the world, not only do tenants come, but the quality and diversity is truly impressive, as well.  From very early stage all the way up to Phase 1 clinical development, since opening our doors in February 2012 we have created an impressive array of IP and research-based opportunities.

Precis of article by Martino Picardo, CEO, Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst November 2013