RebelBio Answers London’s Call Offering More Investment & Support for Biotech Start ups

Jun 25, 2018 · Guest post from Steven O'Connell, Associate Director & Programme Manager for RebelBio.


London’s Calling

Following four years in Cork and four great accelerator programmes, RebelBio has officially relocated to London and plan to use this hub as the natural stepping stone to help accelerate the next generation of life science companies. RebelBio’s mission has not changed, however, and moving location reflects the fact it is a global programme looking for emerging talent.

Funding the Science of Life

London has been a major hub for startups since the beginning of the Information Age and is also possibly the 3rd largest hub for investment after San Francisco and New York. Not only that but for life sciences alone it is a major investment ecosystem. In 2017, over €1 Billion was raised for life sciences companies alone. There are over 100 venture capital (VC) firms specialising in early stage health tech that are incredibly passionate about pre-seed & seed stage investments. RebelBio has continued a trend of successful investments in a number of diverse companies including:

● Perfect Day Foods, a 2014 alum has raised $24.7 Million in Series A funding

● Hyasynth has announced a letter of intent for strategic investment worth $10 Million CDN from Organigram

● Pili, A 2015 alum raised a seed round of $3 Million

● Other successes include MicrosynbiotiX (€1 Million) & Hexafly (€1 Million) raised also

SEIS & EIS investment schemes offer angel investors tax and strategic incentives to give early stage startups the chance to work with angels who may have previously had success in a med-tech, engineering or life science background increases the odds of success for a successful founder / investor interaction. The programme showcased the startups at a packed investor week in place of a single demo day given the high interest from the new connections. Interestingly the programme found that local investors wanted to move away from traditional demo days and increase their engagement between prospective deals, thus the next programme will host an Investor Month in the final month.

Even the local government has taken an increased stance on investments. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has made commitments to make London a leading Smart Hub and at the end of 2017 the Chancellor announced £17 million in funding for new life sciences. In addition to the tax incentives for tech startups all this is demonstrating the city’s commitment to entrepreneurship, and means turning your idea into the next big thing could be closer than you think.

New supports in the UK are Capital Enterprise and The European Regional Development Fund which has provide support structures for accelerator programmes throughout London offering programmes for staff and access to investor syndicates to help increase the levels of job creation. The Department of International Trades Global Entrepreneur Programme has officially endorsed the accelerator to help fast track entrepreneur visas from all over the world for founders of early stage biotech startups.

Space For The Startups To Grow

The new home is the the Imperial College London’s White City Incubator, located at the Translation & Innovation Hub in lovely West London. West London is a growing hub for life science & synthetic biology startups and it feels like a natural fit for us. Throughout the 5th cohort the startups really benefited from the lab and coworking environment and were offered unparalleled support from the Imperial Innovations team. As the hub is ever growing there were numerous free workshops on IP Strategy, Sales and Technical Development during the programme to offer the cohort additional value. Other neighbours include Customem, Therapeutic Frontiers, Autolus & Hack Science to name a few, all of which have independently raised hundreds of thousands to millions in funding to scale their businesses.

The demand for lab coworking space is higher in London and post programme the companies have available the chance to scale in a positive and growing community. The Shepherds Bush market is also home to the up and coming independent space called OPEN CELL, which will be a home for creatives, biohackers, startups and designers inspired by science to build new and exciting companies. The increase in demand for space is evident and the startup community is ever growing.

The programmes partners include SynbiCITE, leaders in Synthetic Biology commercialisation & development strategies have been steadfast in offering companies support and access to state of the art facilities as well as commercial development opportunities. SynbiCITE are a key player in informing the UK government on where the direction of research and commercialisation of synthetic biology (synbio) is heading. From 2010 - 2016 more than 146 synbio companies have been supported thanks to their help.

On the addition of RebelBio to the London landscape CEO of SynBiCite, Stephen Chambers, thinks, "The relocation of RebelBio to the iHUB at Imperial College London is great news for the innovation ecosystem in the UK. RebelBio, backed by SOS Ventures the largest investor in synthetic biology, brings invaluable expertise to the acceleration of early-stage life sciences startups"

For access to equipment, services and ancillary facilities Clustermarket offer companies technical development needs by connecting companies to labs in Cambridge, Oxford & Europe. As a result the life science startup community does not need to own expensive equipment & therefore can keep costs low and commercialise more efficiently.

RebelBio has found its footing in a new and exciting business environment where the past and future Rebels will find support of both them as people and their technology as they grow in the variety of ever evolving markets that they inhabit. The programme is accepting applications for Cohort VI taking place in August & the deadline is July 1st.


Steven O'Connell, Associate Director & Programme Manager for RebelBio

Steven O Connell is the Associate Director & Programme Manager for RebelBio.Cited by Philip Hemme, CEO of Labiotech EU as "European Biotechnologies Biggest Rebel" Steven helps early stage synthetic biology & biotechnology companies develop in London by running an intensive but rewarding mini-MBA style programme to de-risk these ventures. To date Steven has spoken at the Cambridge University Technology & Entrepreneurship Club’s 2016 Technology Ventures Conference & Labiotech Refresh 2017 as well as numerous others. He is also a curator for Hello Tomorrows Global Challenge.

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