SBC open innovation summit

Earlier this month, the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC), a joint venture between the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, GlaxoSmithKline, the Wellcome Trust and Innovate UK, hosted its 4th Annual Open Innovation Summit. The SBC’s open innovation culture aims to accelerate the discovery of cutting-edge healthcare solutions and place the UK bioscience sector at the forefront of worldwide biomedical innovation. Find out more in today’s blog…

The Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst’s 4th Annual Open Innovation Summit gave all attendees genuine insight into what SBC does for the companies that are based there. SBC encourages open innovation by offering opportunities for collaboration, incubation, scientific support as well as business and financial guidance. The day’s two panels and company pitches proved that the combination of all these things helps to increase the flow of good science.

The first panel, chaired by Emma Palmer Foster, saw the experts discussing their own experiences of developing and managing collaborations and it was packed with solid advice for companies. Dr Zahid Latif, Head of Healthcare at Innovate UK, Dr Mary Kerr, CEO of NeRRe Therapeutics, Dr Richard Weaver CEO of Xenogesis and Stuart Pollard, Associate Vice President and Principal, Sunrise, Sanofi shared their top tips on everything from starting your own business to accessing funding:

  • You need to have clarity over what you have got to offer and you need to be talking about your technology in the language of your prospective partner
  • You have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince/princess but the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) and Catapults are there to help de-risk this frog kissing and to help companies to take a long term view to their collaborations
  • Constant communication is vital between you and your partners so that neither of you diverge from the path that you have agreed
  • Considering cultural differences is vital – don’t just focus on the money when you are looking at who to partner with
  • Biohubs like Stevenage provide an excellent environment for collaboration – bringing together a range of organisations and offering them support and guidance


The panel was followed by some excellent pitches from SBC companies profiling their new treatments and therapies. BIA members Puridify talked through their platform purification technology FibroSelect, and brand new company VisusNano – Winner of the 2016 BioStars Competition – gave an excellent pitch on their drug eluting lens for use after cataract surgery.

Chaired by Dr Claire Thompson, Director of Agility Health Tech, the second panel featuring Dr Keith Thompson, CEO of the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, Dr Kris Famm, Head of Bioelectronics R&D Unit, GlaxoSmithKline and Steve Gardner, CEO, RowAnalytics Ltd, discussed the role of technology convergence in the future of healthcare.

  • Bioelectronics: If you have a compelling enough product then then you can knock down many of the hurdles in your way – however the biggest hurdle for bioelectronics is integration
  • Regenerative medicine: With the new Catapult manufacturing site opening next to SBC, the UK is taking a leading role in terms of the manufacturing cell and gene therapies and decreasing capital investment for companies whilst allowing them to keep their processes proprietary. The key issues for cell and gene therapy continue to be reimbursement and adoption.
  • Big data: This is the hardest time to be a doctor as there is so much data out there but it’s very difficult to navigate. Looking at how data can be used to personalise treatment for patients – there are challenges in getting tech embraced throughout the healthcare system. Access to patient data continues to be the biggest barrier.

For tweets from the event, check out #oisummit16 and full details on the day can be found here.