New £400,000 programme to support data-driven biomedical start-ups

Innovate UK is investing £400,000 to launch KQ Labs, an accelerator programme at the Francis Crick Institute to support start-ups working at the interface between biomedical and data science.

The programme will be run by the Crick with Innovate UK funding, taking advantage of the Crick’s excellence in biomedical science and collaborations with other scientific institutions.

Through this accelerator, Innovate UK will provide up to ten start-up companies with £40,000 each to validate their proposals before seeking significant investment.

The programme is called KQ Labs to represent the ‘Knowledge Quarter’ area around King’s Cross, Euston and Bloomsbury. The Crick sits at the centre of a data science ecosystem including the Alan Turing Institute, Google Deepmind, Benevolent AI, the British Library and others. The Crick itself is a hub for biomedical science, while leading edge design is represented by Central Saint Martins.

The KQ Labs accelerator represents a unique opportunity to catalyse the creation of a world-class sustainable digital health ecosystem based in London’s Knowledge Quarter.
Veronique Birault, head of Translation


KQ Labs is open to entrepreneurs from anywhere in the country. Health Data Research UK and Genomics England are collaborating with the accelerator to guide the start-up companies on issues relating to data access.

Artificial Intelligence is predicted to transform health and life sciences over the next decade. The sector represents a massive opportunity as technology can help to predict and prevent health issues as well as directing appropriate treatments. This could transform health outcomes for patients while saving money for health services. The UK is well-placed to play a leading role in this revolution with world-class universities, access to training datasets, and leading companies creating a catalyst for change. 

Providing critical support to early stage data-driven health science start-ups, KQ Labs will offer a customised framework with a 16-week accelerator programme. The programme will also include workshops to inspire and nurture the next generation of start-ups and training in transferable skills to create future digital health leaders.

Tailored support after the accelerator programme will help start-ups to access further funding and investment, while events will bring together data scientists, biomedical scientists and entrepreneurs. This will build on existing event programmes at the Crick, including the monthly DeepTech Mondays and HealthQuake series.

KQ Labs represents a new approach for Innovate UK, supporting business growth through added services and support as well as funding, for this area of high potential business growth as well as patient benefit.

The focus of activities will initially include a broad spectrum of digital health activities, from drug discovery through genomics applications, patient stratification tools, imaging analysis and any other relevant biomedical applications.

Dr Veronique Birault, Head of Translation at the Crick, said: “The KQ Labs accelerator represents a unique opportunity to catalyse the creation of a world-class sustainable digital health ecosystem based in London’s Knowledge Quarter. The KQ Labs’ vision and programme align with the Crick strategic priorities to collaborate creatively and accelerate translation for health and wealth. We are delighted to work in partnership with Innovate UK to support small businesses to grow.”

Chris Sawyer, Innovation Lead, Digital Health at Innovate UK said: “The KQ Labs is a fantastic initiative, aligned perfectly with Innovate UK’s objective to support UK business growth in the health and life sciences sector. We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Francis Crick Institute on the KQ Labs accelerator and look forward to helping businesses accelerate to reach their full potential.”

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