The ten carefully selected start-up teams have completed the 16-week intensive KQ Labs accelerator programme, having each received a £40k convertible loan, and had access to a network of global experts in all aspects of entrepreneurship, health sector knowledge and data science.
The accelerator, now graduating its second cohort of data-related health start-ups, is called KQ Labs to represent the ‘Knowledge Quarter’ area around the King’s Cross, Euston and Bloomsbury regions of the city. The Crick sits at the centre of a data, biomedical science and creative design ecosystem including the Alan Turing Institute, Google DeepMind, Benevolent AI, the British Library and Central Saint Martins, and Merck Sharp & Dohme as well as UCL, its associated hospitals and the Wellcome Trust. As part of its unique focus on data driven health, KQ Labs has close links with Health Data Research UK and Genomics England. The KQ Labs accelerator represents a unique opportunity to foster a vibrant ecosystem for data-driven health in the King’s Cross area.
The second cohort of the KQ Labs accelerator culminated in a Demo Day event on 5 March, where the ten participating start-ups pitched their ideas to a room full of over 160 people, with around 100 potential investors and partners, including VCs, angel investors and pharma, with a view to catalysing potential discussions on investment to support their next stages of growth.
The intersection between the biomedical and data sciences promises to play a transformational role in solving some of the most difficult challenges facing global health systems, and the ten selected start-ups are a testament to the breadth and depth of innovation in this area. The companies are working on a wide range of subjects including personalised medicine, drug and vaccine discovery, imaging and improved diagnosis across diverse therapeutic areas, as well as management and interrogation of genomic data.
Will Spooner from Zetta Genomics, which uses big data know-how to provide scalable genome storage and advanced analytics for genomic medicine, shared his experience and highlights of the programme.
"We started KQ Labs with great technology but no full-time employees and no revenue. By the end of the programme we had employees and commercial deals in the bag. Not only did KQ provide the cushion needed to give up the day job it helped us better understand the process of getting the company off the ground."
Dr Jelena Aleksic from PharmEnable, a drug discovery company using AI to explore novel parts of chemical space, commented on how the KQ Labs Accelerator helped them drive business growth.
“The workshops were relevant to our stage of business growth and were delivered by experts in the field, providing us with actionable advice and useful contacts. We were very impressed with the speakers, as well as with the mentors on the programme. Getting to know the other companies was also very helpful as we were all working in the same area and could learn from each other.”
Paul Dowling, the KQ Labs programme lead said, "It was immensely fulfilling to work with a group of highly inspirational founders and see how well they developed over the course of the programme."
Veronique Birault, Director of Translation at the Crick, said: “The KQ Labs team have built a fantastic programme supporting early-stage start-ups, which is a great contribution towards building the ecosystem for data-driven health in the Kings Cross area”.