The Oxford AHSN Accelerator programme was launched in 2019 to offer a unique launchpad for innovators and early-stage companies in the Thames Valley and help get their ideas translated into clinical practice in the NHS. The programme was originally held in person but moved online during the pandemic.
The Accelerator programme has helped over 120 start-up companies build and test robust value propositions and create viable business models, as well as identifying their key stakeholders within the healthcare and life sciences environments.
Delivery partners BioCity/We Are Pioneer Group awarded more than £200,000 of in-kind investment and 12 months of business support to all the winners. Programme participants have also gone on to apply their learning to secure around £2 million in additional funding and create new jobs.
Since the conclusion of the 2021 programme, an Oxford AHSN Accelerator alumni group has been established, providing an ongoing online support community for around 40 innovators who have been through the programme.
How is the AHSN involved?
The Oxford AHSN Accelerator programme was delivered in partnership with BioCity in 2019/20 and We Are Pioneer Group in 2021. The programme provided support from industry mentors, utilising leading tools to assist with customer discovery, local and global market access and stakeholder engagement specifically tailored to the healthcare and life sciences industry. The Accelerator programme has three elements: commercialisation workshops, a pre-accelerator and the final eight-week intensive programme.
The participants are selected through a competitive process and assigned a dedicated coach to support them on the journey to test their key assumptions on the Strategyzer canvases as part of their customer discovery, which involved talking to key stakeholders and customers and obtaining feedback.
What is the impact of AHSN involvement to date?
BioCity/We Are Pioneer Group awarded more than £200,000 of in-kind investment and 12 months of business support to all the winners of the Oxford AHSN Accelerator programme.
Programme participants have also gone on to apply their learning to secure around £2 million in additional funding and create new jobs. Some successes are listed below:
- Mendelian – 2019 participant, now working with 45 NHS sites, leveraged more than £500,000 in grant funding.
- University of Reading (2019 participant AMR) – secured an NIHR grant of £1 million to develop their antibiotic susceptibility test for urinary tract
- Polymaths-ai – 2019 participant, won an Innovate UK grant for £491,000.
- MetaGuideX – 2020 winner, raised over £300,000 capital and created three new jobs.
- Sapien Health – 2020 participant, raised £500,000 venture funding and shortlisted for SBRI grant funding.
- Neobe Therapeutics – 2021 participant, initiated fundraising and submitted a grant application to Innovate UK Biomedical Catalyst.
- RCube Health – 2021 participant, received funding of £85,000 from Bayer G4A to move forward with regulatory approvals (CE marking) and generating evidence.
“At the beginning of the programme I had pre-conceived ideas and after a number of interviews I found out I was speaking to the incorrect people. The process in the last eight weeks has been really helpful.” James Larkin, CEO and Co-founder of Oxomics, 2021 winner
“We were confident that MetaGuideX had a diagnostic product that could improve the lives of women with breast cancer, but we were not sure of the best way to place it into the healthcare system. The Oxford AHSN Accelerator took us on an exciting and challenging journey to explore the current healthcare landscape. Thanks to the Accelerator programme, we now have a better set of tools and a clear strategy on how best to position our diagnostic to maximise the benefit to both patients and their clinicians.” Ryan Pink, CEO of MetaGuideX, 2020 winner
“The Oxford AHSN Accelerator gave us a good structure in thinking about customer discovery and product-market fit. We’ve built our thinking around that structure and advanced our thinking massively through it by identifying new customers and markets – we are targeting new markets and customers and innovating our technology accordingly.” Farooq Khan, CEO of Polymaths-ai, 2019 participant
“We were thrilled to support the Oxford AHSN Accelerator programme and the fantastic work they are doing to help start-up companies to produce a viable business venture.” Gerard Harkin, Head of Innovation UK & Ireland, Roche Diagnostics Ltd
“At its inception in 2019, the Oxford AHSN Accelerator programme aimed to support the development of health and life sciences innovations in the Thames Valley for the benefit of the NHS and the wider economy. The calibre of participants over the three years has been exceptional and the participants have shown exceptional commitment and engagement despite these challenging times. The online delivery model in 2020 and 2021 opened up the programme to companies from further afield. What we have created over the last three years is a co-designed ecosystem for innovation growth centred around Oxford AHSN and its broad network of stakeholders.” Matthew Lawrence, Head of Industry and Innovation, Oxford AHSN
Since the conclusion of the 2021 programme, the Oxford AHSN has set up an alumni group available to all innovators who have been through the Accelerator programme as they continue to develop their businesses and innovations. The companies that sign up to this online community will receive ongoing support from Oxford AHSN and its partners and access networking opportunities with business mentors. So far around 40 companies have joined this support network.
In order to run the Accelerator programme again we are seeking funding and corporate sponsors. We are also looking to expand our network of experts who can mentor both the alumni and participants of future programmes. Find out more in our ‘Oxford AHSN Accelerator: from ideas to impact’ brochure.