Winners hold mirror to Cambridge’s global success

Science & Technology clusters that dare take their foot off the innovation gas have been shown to slide backwards in the global pantheon: Not so Cambridge.

Its thriving cohort of S & T innovators is pushing biotech and hi-tech plays to fresh heights across a range of disciplines. 

The net result, looking at in-depth reports on the 2021 Business Weekly Awards contenders, is that the Cambridge S & T cluster is raising record money from international investors and gaining more global traction than ever before.

Lead Awards sponsor Mills & Reeve interviewed businesses and concurred with our assessment that this year’s shortlist was the best, by some distance, in the 31-year history of the competition.

The range of science and technologies showcased across our shortlisted companies is unprecedented in terms of potential to improve cure ratios for patients in a vast array of disease areas and – in terms of DeepTech – to revolutionise entire industries and people’s lives.

Our roll of honour embraces areas as diverse as quantum computing, sustainable aviation, battery advancements, Artificial Intelligence, animal healthcare and life science technologies in cancer and other disease areas that could save millions of lives worldwide.

Business of the Year Cambridge Quantum, steered by Ilyas Khan, has scaled phenomenally quickly to take a world lead in the space. We anticipate CQ soaring further and faster as its quantum computing innovation transforms an impressive array of life science, technology and industrial processes.

It will surprise no-one that life sciences and sustainability tech companies once again dominate the Awards. Mestag Therapeutics is Young Company of the Year.

The main Life Science Innovation Award goes to Alchemab. Supercharged SATAVIA wins the new Sustainability Champion Award. There are well deserved accolades for CN Bio Innovations, Nu Quantum and Cambridge GaN devices. Cambridge GaN is the first company to have three winners on the victory rostrum in the same year.

We reserve special praise for microbiome AI pioneer Eagle Genomics which could become one of Cambridge’s best ever businesses. Marshall Motor Holdings has creamed all opposition to win the Quoted Company of the Year accolade.

We are also thrilled to see animal health specialist PetMedix win the Life Science Scale-up trophy. Co-founder Allan Bradley is one of the world’s greatest geneticists in our opinion.

The Awards honours many powers behind the various thrones: Professor Steve Young, Florin Udrea and Giorgia Longobardi are inspirational in their own right. More importantly they are firing the enthusiasm of future generations of entrepreneurs and businesses to follow the trails they continue to blaze.

Business Weekly Awards 2021: Roll of Honour

Business of the Year Cambridge Quantum  Backed by some of the world’s leading quantum computing companies, Cambridge Quantum is a global leader in quantum software and algorithms, enabling  clients to get the best out of rapidly evolving quantum computing hardware. CQC has offices in the UK, US and Japan. The business has secured a string of global contracts with world leading companies across a range of tech and industry sectors.

In June it was announced that the company was combining with Honeywell Quantum Solutions to establish the world’s most advanced, fully integrated quantum computing company headed by CQ’s CEO Ilyas Khan; Honeywell will also invest between $270 million and $300m in the new venture.

Young Company of the Year Mestag Therapeutics Mestag Therapeutics’ vision is to transform the lives of people affected by inflammatory disease and cancer. Despite significant progress over recent years many patients are unresponsive to current treatments or do not reach long-term remission. Mestag’s  goal is to address unmet needs through its unique understanding of fibroblast populations. 

Often overlooked in the past, single cell data now show that fibroblast populations play an important role in influencing immune effector cells in disease. In August, Mestag closed an oversubscribed seed round extension to take the total to $45 million and is thriving under the guidance of CEO Susan Hill. 

Sir Michael Marshall Engineering Excellence Award CN Bio Innovations CN Bio has developed organ-on-chip laboratory instruments to improve the accuracy and efficiency of drug discovery. Its micro-physiological systems enable researchers to study drug metabolism, toxicology and specific disease models on single- and multi-organ systems. 

Providing efficiencies for pre-clinical drug testing with predictive human tissue-based data, CN Bio’s OOC technologies are able to replicate the micro-environments, cell-cell interactions and biological processes that occur in vivo, to reliably bridge the gap between traditional cell culture assays and human studies, improving drug discovery while reducing research and development costs. The US is particularly enamoured by the technology.

Disruptive Technology Nu Quantum Nu Quantum brings together a portfolio of IP combining quantum optics, semiconductor photonics and information theory, spun out of the University of Cambridge after eight years of research at the Cavendish Laboratory.  Quantum computing is expected to revolutionise scientific research, leading to rapid advances in medicine, manufacturing, logistics, marketing and financial services. 

A new state-of-the-art photonics lab, a major recruitment drive and further R & D for quantum photonics technologies are on the cards. Nu Quantum is already working on projects with BT and Airbus to test application of its components to cybersecurity and telecoms. The business is developing high-performance light-emitting and light-detecting components, which operate at the single-photon level and at ambient temperature. 

International Trade Champion Domino Printing Sciences A coding and marking world leader Domino Printing, is one of a select number of Cambridge companies with a £1 billion market cap. It specialises in digital printing and traceability solutions (such as industrial coders) for sectors as diverse as food, beverage, life sciences, packaging, cleaning, personal care, building and construction. 

Now under Japanese ownership but with its HQ still anchored in Cambridge, Domino operates in over 120 countries and employs more than 2,800 employees; it has manufacturing facilities in the UK, US, China, Germany, India, Sweden and Switzerland.

AI Champion Eagle Genomics The reach and influence of Eagle’s technology has been global from Day One. Among the first companies to benefit from Eagle’s expertise were global organisations Unilever, Eli Lilly, GSK, Procter & Gamble and MedImmune. 

The microbiome discovery platform company has been selected to join the latest cohort of the Microsoft AI Factory, based at the world-renowned Station F startup campus in Paris. The Eagle Genomics platform utilises AI to analyse complex genomic and microbiomic data at scale, delivering new insight and allowing enterprise brands to assess the viability, efficacy and safety of products. Eagle revenues have soared by 300 per cent over the last year. 

Quoted Company of the Year Marshall Motor Holdings In August, Marshall Motor Holdings reported that revenue for the first half of 2021 to June 30 had rocketed 49 per cent to more than £1.334 billion.  Gross profit hit the afterburners to soar 65.3 per cent to £157.4 million. A loss of £10.7m last time reversed 467.8 per cent to a profit of £39.5m – a  staggering turnaround. 

Marshall’s strength is underpinned by a strong cash position of £57.2m and a balance sheet blushing with assets of £239.3m. The group restored dividends with an H1 payout of 8.86p per share. The company says that continuing underlying pre-tax profit for the full financial year is expected to be no less than £40m – and don’t be surprised if there are further acquisitions by the group.

Life Science Innovation Alchemab Alchemab is harnessing the power of the immune system to cure disease by using nature’s most effective search engine – adaptive immunity. The company tags itself ‘the protective self antibody company’ with the aim of identifying novel unbiased targets and therapeutics by evaluating convergent protective antibody responses in groups of resilient patients. 

It is leveraging functional and advanced analytical approaches to evaluate antibody repertoires obtained from RNA from blood & tissue samples and its initial therapeutic focuses are on the areas of oncology, neurodegeneration and infectious diseases. The company raised $82 million in a Series A round in April.

Tech Scale-Up of the Year Cambridge GaN Devices The Cambridge University power electronics spin-out, aims to exploit a $30 billion global market. The company is developing innovative high-performance Gallium Nitride power electronic devices. 

The two founders Florin Udrea and Giorgia Longobardi have been working on efficient power electronics based on GaN for more than 10 years. In February, Cambridge GaN raised $9.5m Series A funding to expand its product portfolio of energy-efficient power devices and  double the size of its team.

Life Science Scale-Up PetMedix Animal healthtech market leader PetMedix was spun out the lab of Professor Allan Bradley in 2018, based on the PhD work of his student and PetMedix co-founder, Jolyon Martin. At the time, there was a nascent version of the Ky9™ transgenic platform and no team, premises, or pipeline to speak of. PetMedix has now established itself as a world leader in the emerging companion animal antibody field and is currently the only group capable of making mature, fully species-specific antibodies. 

Along the way, PetMedix has expanded operations, boosted headcount and raised significant expansion capital. Heavyweight Chinese, Japanese and US backing allowed PetMedix™ to complete an oversubscribed $37 million Series B round in September to advance its innovative pipeline through clinical development. 

Sustainability Champion SATAVIA SATAVIA is helping to make flying smarter and greener. It is regarded as the only solution delivering actionable insight in aviation which is able to combine and validate multiple environmental, weather, aircraft and maintenance datasets. Its technology is credited with making aircraft condition monitoring 20 per cent more accurate while delivering fuel savings and emission reductions.

In March, Business Weekly announced that SATAVIA is to work with leading global aviation players after winning a coveted place in Aviation X Lab, a highly exclusive international incubator for green aviation initiatives. 

Aviation X Lab aims to shape the impending era of carbon-negative aviation, impacting one billion people through a sustained programme of funding and collaboration. Working with the Dubai Future Foundation and based in the United Arab Emirates, the high-profile incubator brings together five global aviation giants: Emirates, Thales, Collins Aerospace, GE Aviation and Airbus. SATAVIA was one of only two finalists to be selected for the prestigious scheme from a cohort of 100-plus.

Cambridge Enterprise Academic Entrepreneur of the Year Florin Udrea (Cambridge GaN Devices) Florin is a professor in semiconductor engineering at the University of Cambridge and head of the High Voltage Microelectronics and sensors group.    As founder and chief technology officer he is a key figure in Cambridge GaN Devices. 

The company was created to explore and develop a number of unique opportunities in power electronics made possible by the team’s proprietary technology in smart Gallium Nitride power semiconductor transistors.  Florin is also helping another exciting start-up, Flusso, to scale in the hot field of smart sensors for environmental and medical applications. 

Florin has helped found five companies – Cambridge Semiconductor (Camsemi) in power ICs – sold to Power Integrations in Silicon Valley; Cambridge CMOS Sensors in the field of smart sensors – sold to ams; Cambridge Microelectronics in Power Devices; Cambridge GaN Device in high voltage GaN technology and Flusso in flow and environmental  sensors. Since receiving his PhD in power devices from Cambridge University in 1995 Professor Udrea has published over 500 papers in journals and international conferences. He holds 200 international patents in power semiconductor devices and sensors. 

Cambridge Enterprise Lifetime Achievement Award Steve Young Steve Young – a Cambridge ‘dontrepreneur’ who sold an early tech company to Microsoft in 1999 and another to Apple in 2015 and has reigned throughout that period as a world-leading SpeechTech specialist – is today unveiled as winner of the Cambridge Enterprise Lifetime Achievement trophy in the Business Weekly Awards.

Steve has more than 40 years’ experience in speech processing and AI. He founded a number of speech technology startups and after selling VocalIQ worked in the Apple Siri development team.

His glittering CV shows that he is a Fellow of the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the IET and the IEEE. He holds an IEEE Signal Processing Society Technical Achievement Award, the ISCA Medal for Scientific Achievement, a European Signal Processing Society Technical Achievement Award and the IEEE James L.Flanagan Speech and Audio Processing Award.

CJBS Cambridge Graduate Business Cyted Cyted focuses on providing digital diagnostic infrastructure to drive the earlier detection of disease. Its technologies use artificial intelligence and novel biomarkers to unlock clinical insight and improve patient outcomes.

Cyted leverages deep learning on medical information to generate context-sensitive reports that augment the ability of clinicians to detect disease. The company has just scaled into a new HQ and is doubling headcount in the next few months. Co-founder Marcel Gehrung was recently named a Forbes 30 Under 30 and the company has raised than $11 million in capital from grants and venture capital.

CJBS Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Giorgia Longobardi  (Cambridge GaN Devices) Giorgia Longobardi has a PhD in power devices from Cambridge University. Since 2009 she has been working on GaN power devices design and characterisation gaining extensive and in-depth knowledge of GaN reliability. She has years of experience in managing and budgeting multi-partner projects and prior to that has led the GaN power devices team at the engineering department at Cambridge University.

In 2019 Giorgia received the RAEng Engineers Trust Young Engineer of the Year prize awarded by Royal Academy of Engineering. In June 2020 Cambridge GaN was chosen to lead a €10.3 million European project designed to accelerate critical uses for the technology. Cambridge GaN Devices (CGD) spearheads the GANEXT project under the PENTA Programme, targeting the design and development of highly efficient, extremely compact prototypes of next generation Gallium Nitride power modules, for low and high power applications.

In February 2021, Cambridge GaN raised $9.5m Series A funding in a round co-led by IQ Capital, Parkwalk Advisors and BGF, and including investment from Foresight Williams, Cambridge Enterprise, Martlet Capital, Cambridge Angels and Cambridge Capital Group. 

• The awards will be presented to winners at a ceremony on Friday 15th October at St John’s Innovation Centre in Cambridge.