Two life sciences and digital health companies have secured a total of £2m to grow their business and commercialise their innovation, thanks to a new community of angel investors focused on supporting life sciences
The funding is the first to be raised through Angels in MedCity, launched in October 2014 by MedCity, London Business Angels and Angels4LifeSciences to address the challenges many life sciences companies face in accessing funding in the early stages of their development. Since its launch, the scheme has brought together around 100 potential investors and held three pitching events, at which 17 companies have presented their investment opportunities.
The scheme is part of a major focus on life sciences investment led by MedCity and the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who are also working with leading figures in industry and finance to scope out options for a potential fund for drug discovery and development*. Mayor of London Boris Johnson says:
“London leads the world for medical innovation, and we have to make sure that our brilliant entrepreneurs can access the investment it takes to grow a successful, sustainable business. These first two success stories perfectly illustrate the combination of creativity and scientific excellence that is revolutionising how we manage our health, and I look forward to seeing more exciting companies benefit from this scheme.”
The first companies to raise funding through Angels in MedCity are:
Desktop Genetics – a company developing software for genome editing that makes it easier and faster for scientists to design, build and test the DNA molecules needed to turn genomic information into medical breakthroughs. Desktop Genetics has raised £1.4m through Angels in MedCity, the London Co-Investment Fund, IQ Capital Partners and a consortium of sector expert private investors including Dr Jonathan Milner (Deputy Chairman and Founder of Abcam plc), Dr Martin Murphy (CEO of Syncona Partners LLP) and Dr Darrin M Disley (CEO of Horizon Discovery Group plc).
StepJockey – a digital health company promoting healthy day to day living by designing signs and apps for organisations that give accurate, individualised information on calories burned through activities such as stair use. The company has raised £600k, including substantial participation from Sevenex Capital Partners, the London Co-Investment Fund and a consortium of private investors.
Welcoming the first successful fundraising for Angels in MedCity, Dr Eliot Forster, Executive Chair of MedCity, said:
“Life sciences is the most exciting and rewarding sector to invest in in my view, because it offers massive potential not only to make money but also to play a part in developing therapies and technologies that will make a real difference to people’s lives. By launching Angels in MedCity, we wanted to unlock much-needed capital for our rich ecosystem of emerging life sciences companies, and at the same time give interested investors a practical route into a sector that can be perceived as complex and too specialist. I’m delighted to see both ambitions start to be realised.”
Anthony Clarke, CEO of London Business Angels, says:
“Our Angels in MedCity workshop programme has already helped many new angel investors to better understand the challenges and benefits of investing in the early stage life sciences, medical and healthcare sectors. This has led to a new community of angel investors being able to meet prospective investee companies at our sector-specific pitching events with many now syndicating together to provide companies with valuable support as well as their capital.”
Paul Nuki, co-founder and CEO of StepJockey, says:
“We are delighted that such an experienced group of med tech investors have backed StepJockey’s expansion. The new capital will allow us to bring our evidence-based and uniquely inclusive wellness intervention to many thousands of desk-bound office workers in the UK and around the world”.
Angels in MedCity initiative devised and delivered by London Business Angels is co-funded by MedCity and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of its Capital Accelerator Programme. CAP aims to help emerging innovative businesses in a wide range of sectors to locate new resources available in London and provide practical support that will enable them to raise investment funding and thereby to facilitate further job creation in London.
*Investment in life sciences
In June 2015, the Mayor of London’s Office and MedCity hosted a roundtable that brought together leading figures in industry, finance and research to discuss proposals for innovative new funding models for UK life sciences. Work is continuing with stakeholders including the European Investment Bank to further scope out options for a potential fund for drug discovery and development. This work is likely to include setting up an advisory group over the coming months to help take the work forward.
About Desktop Genetics
Desktop Genetics is a London-based software and bioinformatics company aiming to transform life sciences R&D through software. Their DESKGEN software platform enables scientists to design genome editing experiments in any cell line, right from their desktop.
Genome editing, a technology used to modify the genetic code of cells, is revolutionising modern life sciences research and development. Scientists use genome editing to translate genomic information into medical breakthroughs and ultimately eradicate genetic diseases. Desktop Genetics plays a central role in enabling the use this game changing technology. By optimising the use of DNA molecules and automating complex workflows, Desktop Genetics makes it easier and faster for scientists to design successful genome editing experiments.
The Company was founded in 2012 by Riley Doyle, Victor Dillard and Edward Perello whilst completing their MPhil in Bioscience Enterprise at the University of Cambridge. Since then, Desktop Genetics has been developing a unique software platform in partnership with leading genome-editing companies. In April 2015, the Company launched DESKGEN, now used by over 1,000 scientists worldwide, including in major academic and commercial laboratories.
More information at www.deskgen.com
StepJockey promotes wellness and fights sedentary behaviour in multi-storey office buildings by labelling stairs for calorie burn and gamifying stair use by staff. Combining the latest near field technologies and behavioural economics, StepJockey’s unique smart signs and gamification platform enable employers to make their offices visibly healthier and more active without the need for large-scale capital investment. Benefits include:
- more active and engaged employees
- an ability to impact all staff within an office (not just the already active minority)
- quantifiable ROI via time, energy and carbon savings
- rich-data feedback for wellness, sustainability and CSR reporting
StepJockey was originally evaluated and seed-funded by the UK Department of Health via the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI). It effectively combats sedentary behaviour in large office buildings – a leading cause of long term illness and lost business productivity.
Since launch in November 2013, StepJockey has labelled more than 6,000 staircases in 90 countries. Customers include Deloitte, Disney, Barclays, KPMG, ITV, Jones Lang LaSalle, Lloyds of London and L&G as well a growing number of hospitals, universities and public authorities both in the UK and overseas.
Established by the Mayor of London with the capital’s three Academic Health Science Centres – Imperial College Academic Health Centre, King’s Health Partners, and UCL Partners – MedCity is a unique collaboration that brings together the outstanding life sciences strengths of London and the greater south east.
Over the next 20 years, MedCity will position the region as a world-leading, interconnected hub for research, development, manufacturing and commercialisation by championing collaboration and entrepreneurship, promoting a joined up and globally distinct life sciences offer, and providing a visible ‘go-to’ point for industry and investors.
About London Business Angels (LBA)
LBA is one of the most experienced private angel networks in the UK. Since the early 1980s the network has been connecting innovating fast growth small and medium sized enterprises with investment through our network of business angel investors. LBA, part of Angel Capital Group, is professionally managed by a highly experienced management team, leveraging over 25 years’ experience in the early stage investment marketplace as established leaders in the development of new angel-led early stage investment initiatives, and over 30 years’ investing experience through the LBA network. LBA is a founding member of the UK Business Angels Association, the industry’s best practice trade association, and is also a member of EBAN, the European Business Angels Network, and BAE, Business Angels Europe.
Angels4LifeSciences (A4LS) was established in 2012 to help overcome the perceived challenges of Angel investing in early-stage life sciences companies. The A4LS network brings together sector-experienced Angels and generalist investors; the first to provide the validation and confidence needed for the generalists to invest in the sector.
A4LS is built around an expert steering group with deep, first-hand experience of building life-science businesses. This team is focused on the selection and coaching of potential investee companies. A4LS does not charge any fees and 100% of any A4LS Angel investment goes to the investee company.