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#UK Cambridge University spin-out working on COVID-19 vaccine seeks Big Pharma alliance


A Cambridge University spin-out working towards a vaccine against COVID-19 is seeking critical funding and a Big Pharma partner to help accelerate the breakthrough.

DIOSynVax was set up in 2017 with the support of Cambridge Enterprise, the university’s commercialisation arm. It believes that with the right funding and partner it could have a vaccine ready by June.

Mastermind Professor Jonathan Heeney has won significant funding and investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Innovate UK and Cambridge Enterprise in recent years to develop new vaccines for diseases ranging from influenza to Ebola and other haemorrhagic fevers. It is this technology that he and his team are now applying to the coronavirus.

DIOSynVax’s approach is much faster than current vaccine development technologies, says Professor Heeney, which means that even allowing for essential pre-clinical mouse studies, his vaccine candidate could be ready for human clinical trials as early as June. 

Head of the Laboratory of Viral Zoonotics at the University of Cambridge, Professor Heeney says that coronaviruses present a particular challenge to vaccine developers.

“We need a Big Pharma partner to help us scale up our activities,” he says. “Our vaccine designs are made so that they can be easily integrated into any proprietary vaccine platform that a pharmaceutical company may have ready.”

DIOSynVax uses computer modelling of the virus’s structure, created using information on the COVID-19 virus itself as well as its relatives – SARS, MERS and other coronaviruses – and identifying chinks in its armour; crucial pieces of the exterior spikes that will form part of the vaccine to disable the virus but without making the infection worse.

“A vaccine strategy needs to be laser specific, targeting those domains of the virus’s structure that are absolutely critical for docking with a cell, while avoiding the parts that could make things worse,” he says. “Our technology does just that.”

The approach of the Cambridge UK business is to look at the genetics of these viruses to identify the key piece of genetic code that the virus uses to produce the essential part of its coat – the spikes, that are important for docking with a cell – and to target these elements with the vaccine.

Professor Heeney says: “What we end up with is a mimic, a mirror image of part of the virus, but minus its bad parts, the non-essential parts that could trigger those bad immune responses. What remains is just the magic bullet, essentially, to trigger the right type of immune response.”

Then, using a combination of artificial intelligence and synthetic biology, the team create a vaccine that includes this piece of genetic code, which can be injected into an individual. 

The body’s immune cells will then find it, decode it and use the information to program the rest of the immune system to produce antibodies against it.

The next step is to then test the vaccine in pre-clinical trials – in other words, give the vaccine to mice to check that it is safe to use. Mice are an important part of vaccine research: their physiology and immune systems are similar enough to ours to enable researchers to minimise the risk to humans taking part in clinical trials.

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Publié dans #UK

#UK Cambridge sees 35 per cent increase in VC investment in 2019


Cambridge is one of Europe’s fastest growing European technology cities, with an increase of 33 per cent in VC investment into digital tech companies from £380m in 2018 to £500m in 2019, new figures from Tech Nation reveal.

Cambridge is also one of the leading cities in Europe when it comes to robotics investment and development with £411m in total funding in 2019. 

The search for talent to drive technology capability has driven up the median digital technology salary in Cambridge to £39,000.

In a related development, rare disease drug pioneer Healx and Cambridge neighbour BenevolentAI, which is unlocking the power of scientific data to make more effective drugs, have been named in Tech Nation’s Future Fifty 8.0 programme.

Across the East of England as a whole, the region attracted £800m total VC investment in 2019. Between 2015 and 2019, £998m was invested in emerging tech in the region with £486m pumped into AI ventures. Scale-ups and new unicorns abounded locally over the same period.

There has been widespread praise for both Healx and BenevolentAI which join Tech Nation’s Future Fifty 8.0 programme for late-stage tech companies in the UK. 

This is regarded as Europe’s longest serving and most successful programme for late-stage tech companies, with nine IPOs and 30 mergers and acquisitions in its cohort.

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Cambridge is home to one of the world’s top universities and has a hugely talented workforce so it’s no surprise the East of England has become a thriving technology hub and secured more tech funding than many major European capitals.

“We are determined to create the conditions digital businesses in Cambridge need to succeed. Right across the country we are investing £5 billion in gigabit speed broadband, 5G, cyber security, digital skills, research and development.”

Thea Goodluck, Entrepreneur Engagement manager, East of England for Tech Nation added: “The Tech Nation report 2020 findings show the East of England tech scene is thriving. Close to £1bn has been invested in emerging technologies in the region between 2015 and 2019 and it is exciting to see the three emerging sectors identified in the report as Agritech, Cleantech and Healthtech. 

“Emerging technologies and sectors are visible and growing across the region as a whole, with Cambridge producing incredible AI and healthtech scaleups, Norfolk and Suffolk leading the way on agritech and cleantech, and Essex having a vibrant digital creative and AR/VR presence. 

“Local unicorns such as Darktrace and CMR Surgical are providing high value, highly skilled jobs in the area and I’m delighted to see Healx and BenevolentAI join our Future Fifty 8.0 programme for late-stage tech companies.”

Poppy Gustafsson, CEO for EMEA at Cambridge-based Darktrace, said: “It is fantastic that the UK stands as one of the top three countries investing in AI globally. 

“The lifeblood of brilliant technology companies is access to capital and great talent, and Britain has both of these ingredients. Darktrace is a fantastic example of Great British AI proving itself fundamental in solving one of the society’s greatest challenges.

“Thousands of organisations around the world are using this technology to fight back on their behalf to protect their critical data and systems from crippling cyber-attacks.”

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Publié dans #UK

#Asia #Japan One important lesson startups will forget after the panic


Innovation drives society forward, but everyday competence keeps it on the road.

Over the past five years, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the importance of disruptive innovation, but today I’d like to talk about the framework that allows disruptive innovation to be a net positive to society.

The coronavirus pandemic has some people looking for innovation and others for stability. However, examining how Japan and the rest of the world are getting though it shows us something very important about innovation. Something that is almost always overlooked.

Show Notes

Life in Tokyo during the pandemic
Why you don’t want to cough in Singapore
Why we probably can’t innovate our way out of this pandemic
The very real dark side of disruptive innovation
Why innovation depends on everyday competence

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Welcome to Disrupting Japan, straight talk from Japan’s most successful entrepreneurs.

I’m Tim Romero and thanks for joining me.

Things are not normal in Japan right now.

Japan is one of the countries that is being been hit the hardest by the coronavirus. And the rest of the world is watching Japan because it has a modern health-care system, an active response to the virus, and a government that can be trusted to release .. reasonably accurate information about infection and mortality rates.

How things play out for Japan over the next few months is quite likely how they will play out for the rest of the world over the next year.

So yeah, everybody is watching Japan; as they should be.

People are nervous in Japan, but things are calm and orderly. Of course, Japan tends to do calm and orderly really well. Public gatherings like graduations, business conferences, and sporting events have been canceled. As I record this, no decision has been made about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but it seems likely they’ll be postponed.

Two weeks ago Sunday, I was walking back home through nearly deserted streets around Ark Hills and saw a young couple doing their wedding photography in the atrium there. Masks nervously being taken off and put back on between shots. It’s got to be a frustrating time to have had a wedding scheduled.

On the business side, most large companies including Dentsu, Panasonic, Mitsubishi and of course Google as well, are either requiring or encouraging their employees to work from home. Which is good. Almost all business travel is canceled, and that’s for the best.

In fact, three weeks ago when I was returning to Japan from Singapore, I coughed while walking through the airport on the way to my gate. Not like a big, sick, hacking cough, but just like a, I mean I’m a human being, and sometimes we just cough, right?

A few seconds later, someone from security wearing a mask walked up to me with a heat sensor to take my temperature. He was very polite about the whole thing, and I was fine of course. It’s good to know that Singapore is taking things seriously, but FYI, don’t cough in the Singapore airport.

In terms of Disrupting Japan, well, I have not been scheduling interviews for the obvious reasons, and honestly, right now most founders are focused on coronavirus countermeasures. If the situation continues, I may try video-conference interviews again, or I may do more commentary episodes. The feedback I received on my last few was overwhelmingly positive, so maybe.

Today, however, I want to talk about the nature of innovation itself. You see, the coronavirus has the potential to teach us a valuable lesson about innovation. No, no. It’s not the one you think it is. It’s not the standard fare about innovation and ingenuity will get us through even humanity’s worst problems.

No, it’s something a bit less on-message. But it’s an insight that is for more important, and in a way, far more reassuring than the standard trope about innovating our way out of a bad situation.

Unfortunately, it’s also a lesson that I think all us innovators …

from Disrupting Japan: Startups and Innovation in Japan https://ift.tt/2TVPdu8

Comment organiser un voyage pour ses salariés ?

Le succès d’une startup dépend de très nombreux facteurs (qualité des produits / services proposés, stratégie, financements, qualité de l’équipe dirigeante, etc.) et chaque petit détail compte pour arriver au but ultime : intégrer le cercle très fermé des Licornes francaises. L’importance de la qualité de l’équipe en place et de sa motivation n’est plus à démontrer, tant au niveau de la qualité de l’offre proposée que pour l’obtention de financements privés. Garder une équipe soudée et motivée dans une startup n’est pas chose facile. Le chemin est très long et semé d’embuches. Les coups durs seront nombreux et la motivation de chacun mis à rude épreuve. Pour cela, le Team Building s’est imposé depuis plusieurs années comme une valeure sûre pour forger la cohésion d’un groupe et les unir vers un but commun. La variété d’option permet de convenir à tout type d’entreprise, quelque soit sa taille ou son budget. A organiser par exemple durant une période plus creuse de votre activité, il permettra de souder votre équipe autour d’activité ludiques, de bons repas festifs et de bons moments partagés.

Le Team Building – ensemble on va plus loin

Le Team building consiste à regrouper son équipe sur une journée ou quelques jours, et les faire vivre ensemble quelque chose de fort, constructif et positif. Tous les moyens sont bons pour leur rappeler que seul on va plus vite, mais en groupe on va plus loin ! Course d’orientation, jeux de constructions, escape room, sports divers, et même voyages, tout y passe ! Le voyage est un bel exemple car il peut être abordé de plusieurs manières. Un voyage en équipe pour souder le groupe lors d’expériences plaisirs inoubliables, ou un voyage individuel en récompense des bons résultats obtenus et des efforts consentis. Et la variéte des pays à proposer n’a de limite que votre budget. Amérique du Sud, Japon, Bali, Sri Lanka, Cuba, Népal, Laponie, etc. Les destinations de rêves ne manquent pas ! La durée du voyage importe peu, les souvenirs seront inoubliables et apporteront bonheur et motivation sans précédent à votre équipe.

Organisation du Team Building – vous n’êtes pas tout seul

De nombreux groupes et agences peuvent vous aider à la mise en place de ce type d’activté de Team Building, chacun ayant sa spécialité. A vous de trouver celui qui correspondra le mieux à vos attentes et à votre budget.

Par exemple, Neovent est une agence événementielle pour tout typoe d’entreprises (startups, TPE, PME, grand groupes). les entreprises. Neovent intervient dans tous les domaines de l’événementiel d’entreprise, depuis l’organisation de séminaires d’entreprises jusqu’à l’organisation de soirées de lancement de nouveaux produits, en passant par le Team Building, les conventions à l’étranger, les réunions du comité de direction ou encore le voyage incentive.

Alors n’hésitez plus et lancez-vous dans le team building à travers la découverte de nouvelles expériences et les voyages !

#UK Home guard: Cambridge tech army closes ranks to fight coronavirus


Some of the greatest companies in the Cambridge UK technology pantheon have sidestepped government inaction in a bid to protect staff from the potentially fatal coronavirus.

A powerful cohort of businesses have either banned visitors from their premises or ordered staff to work from home until further notice. Anyone regarded as high risk is being given no choice but to self isolate, Business Weekly understands.

Reliably sourced data supplied to Business Weekly today (Friday) suggests that our best tekkies are leveraging technology to work smart – and safe.
Our bulletin suggests that:-

  • Redgate Software has kept its office open but that employees are working from home from Monday for the foreseeable future 
  • UltraSoc has temporarily closed its St John’s Innovation Centre offices and all its people are working from home for the foreseeable future
  • Napp Pharmaceuticals has reportedly shut its Cambridge Science Park offices to visitors but staff continue working from the HQ. PA Consulting is said to have followed that model
  • All Amazon office-based employees locally are reportedly working from home, ditto Arm staff although the superchip architect tells Business Weekly that all its offices remain open.
  • Videogames ace Frontier Developments is said to be reinforcing its homeworking technology to allow staff to work from home
  • Qualcomm has apparently given all employees the option to work from home but anyone regarded as high risk is not being given the choice
  • Roku Europe, based at the Science Park, has reportedly given all its people the option to work from home but there is talk that this will become mandatory next week

One technology cluster source told Business Weekly that the template being deployed in the current crisis might have a lasting legacy.

They said: “Our tech companies have the tools needed to work smart and are not constrained by bricks and mortar. Many tasks can be carried out remotely.

“Better to have staff at home maximising their time and technology than sitting for ages on a congested A14 and other routes. If the coronavirus lasts for weeks or months employers are bound to look at whether the current arrangements represent a more sustainable and cost-effective model for future working practice.”

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Publié dans #UK

#UK Advertising with bite – from old men with all their own teeth!


I once had a work colleague who complained that she got her first wrinkle before she lost her last spot. Or, to put it another way, her prime was over before it began. 

I know how she felt. It fits with the prejudices we all have about age, especially in the advertising world. You go from being unemployable because you have no experience to being put out to grass because you’re set in your ways.

Of course, In the ad industry we’ve made a rod for our own backs by our veneration of all that is ‘new’. We tell our prospects the product you have is ‘so last year’. You need the latest, new improved model etc. – all to generate new sales for our clients. 
New media has reinforced this mindset. The death of the press, TV and all forms of traditional advertising has been solemnly announced, and digital proclaimed its invincible successor.

The Media Machine worships at the shrine of youth. Most recently, Auntie has attracted derision for its mutton-dressed-as-lamb programming in desperate pursuit of the youth market, whilst alienating its vastly more numerous mature viewers who actually watch tv. 

Why this blind spot for the old? Especially as the elderly are the most rapidly growing sector of the population, and those between 50 and 65 have, on average, higher incomes and greater purchasing power than the young.

Which is why it’s gratifying to see that not everyone views wrinklies as write-offs. A new London Agency called Ancient & Modern has them firmly in their sights.  And it won’t surprise you to learn that the partners of that agency are all Old Men. 

They’re veterans of the business who, as they say, ‘can still produce advertising in the way it made, with care, craft and (hold on to your hats) an actual creative idea at the centre’.

And that’s no idle boast. Adrian Holmes, John O’Driscoll and Seamus O’Farrell (average age 64) are the bright old things who came up with such commercial classics as the ‘Heineken Refreshes the Parts’, ‘Happiness is a Cigar Called Hamlet’ and BT’s ‘Good to Talk’ campaigns.

And the work they’re turning out now – for Unilever, the London Diabetes Centre and Simplicity Cremations shows they’re far from past it. They might write about the grave, but they haven’t got one foot in it!

If you’re looking for someone with the wit and wisdom of the ages you might also like to look up Simpsons Creative. We’ve been in business for over 35 years and some of us still work a layout pad better than a Mac. 

We also cut our teeth on traditional media, and still have them (teeth that is) for getting to grips with any creative challenge you care to set us!


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Publié dans #UK

#UK Fresh Frontier as Cambridge video games developer roars into F1 fast lane


Cambridge video games doyen Frontier Developments plc is racing ever closer to unicorn status after clinching a ‘to die for’ deal to publish Formula 1® management games worldwide for the hallowed motorsport championship.

The multi-year game licence with Formula 1® could be worth multimillions – a point that did not escape UK shareholders who filled their boots on the news: At one point after Tuesday’s announcement, the stock soared 186p, almost 17 per cent, to 1306 to haul the market cap past the $667 million mark.

Chief executive David Braben and his team were cock-a-hoop at the company’s Science Park headquarters when the F1 contract was unveiled. Frontier has exclusive rights to develop and publish F1 management games for PC and console platforms – together with the rights for streaming services – with the first launch off the starting grid for the 2022 F1 season. 

Releases will be worldwide and on multiple platforms.

This represents Frontier’s biggest ever game deal when one considers it has a licence for four games for seasons 2022 to 2025 in one of the biggest sports in the world.

Frontier has extensive experience of developing deeply engaging, high-fidelity simulation games which also achieve widespread global adoption. 
The partnership with F1 creates an exciting opportunity to bring together Frontier’s experience and capability, including its powerful and versatile Cobra game engine, to the management-rich environment of the globally popular and ever-changing world of F1.

Following the signing of the F1 Licence and the IP licence previously announced in March 2019, Frontier can now confirm that both of the major new internally developed releases in the financial year ending May 31, 2022 will benefit from major global IP licences.

Frontier has also confirmed the signing of another two Frontier Publishing deals, taking the number of signed deals to five for the company’s third party publishing initiative. 

A number of additional opportunities with carefully selected partners are in discussion and the company expects to start earning revenue in the next financial year.

David Braben said: “F1 is one of the most popular global sporting franchises in the world and we believe the combination of the F1 brand together with our extensive experience in management games will deliver fantastic game experiences to a wide and varied audience around the world.

“We have achieved great success with our own IP and are proven development and publishing partners for the highest profile third party IP. Both original and licensed IP will continue to be important as we grow and nurture our portfolio.”

Formula 1 bosses are equally thrilled. Frank Arthofer, director of Digital and Licensing at Formula 1, said: “Games are an important part of the F1 media ecosystem. This new manager franchise will allow fans to experience the challenging management aspects of the sport through immersive simulation games and make that experience as accessible as possible for a broad audience. 

“We have huge respect for Frontier and their achievements in the management simulation category, and are thrilled to be working with them for the 2022 season and beyond.”

This is a second quickfire deal for a Cambridge company in the world of Formula 1 following Darktrace’s cyber security contract with McLaren Racing, which Business Weekly announced recently.

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Publié dans #UK

#UK Marshall motors ahead despite potholes in the road


Marshall Motors in Cambridge believes it has the underlying structure and resilience, plus the financial clout, to clear multiple obstacles in its roadmap to growth.

The automotive retail group posted good results for the year to December 31 which showed a strong outperformance of the market and encouraging strategic growth. Twenty new businesses were hitched to the runaway bandwagon.Marshall also reported record revenue and a fifth year of like-for-like revenue growth since IPO.

The company believes it can put the brake on any perceived threats from falling new car sales, a bad Brexit and the threat to global markets from coronavirus.

Despite market challenges, like-for-like operating profit of £33.1 million was only down 4.1 per cent against last year’s record result though underlying profit before tax was 10.8 per cent down at £22.1m.

Like-for-like total new vehicle unit sales were up 0.3 per cent at a time when  market registrations nationally fell by 2.4 per cent, with both retail and fleet delivering a strong market outperformance.

Used car unit sales were 6.1 per cent ahead while UK market volumes declined 0.1 per cent. Further growth of 3.2 per cent was recorded in aftersales.

Marshall has recommended a final dividend of 5.69p giving a full year payout of 8.54p per share (2018: 8.54p). CEO Daksh Gupta said: “The group continued to perform well in 2019 and despite a sustained period of market decline has grown market share by outperforming in all of its key segments. 

“The group delivered record total reported revenue and achieved like-for-like revenue growth. It has taken advantage of continued market consolidation, completing a number of strategic acquisitions in 2019, adding 20 new businesses. We are particularly proud to have become Volkswagen Group’s largest partner in the UK.

“The board notes the latest forecast by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders for a further decline in the UK new car market in 2020 of 2.6 per cent. It is also cognisant of the potential impact that uncertainty over the outcome of future trade agreement negotiations between the UK and the European Union may have on the automotive sector.

“Although we have not seen an impact to date, the board is monitoring the potential impact of COVID-19 and is considering contingency plans in the event it starts to impact our dealerships.

“The board therefore remains cautious but our order book for the important March plate-change period is encouraging and our outlook for the full year is unchanged.

“The UK motor retail landscape may change over the years and decades ahead. The group’s longstanding strategy of partnering with the right brands in the right locations has positioned it well to remain a relevant and important part of that future landscape.”

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Publié dans #UK

#UK Massive revenue hike as GW Pharma spreads its wings


Nasdaq quoted Cambridge life science business GW Pharmaceuticals, whose presc-ription medicines are cannabis-based, posted revenue of $109.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2019 and $311.3m for the full year.

Net sales of its flagship Epidiolex® product were $104.5m for the fourth quarter and $296.4m for the first full year of sales.

Chief executive Justin Gover hearalded the trail GW is blazing with Epidiolex in the US and prospects for a much broader reach with the product.

He said: “2019 was an exceptional and transformative year for GW, led by the successful launch of Epidiolex in the US and approval in Europe. 

“The positive impact this medicine has had on thousands of patients and their families provides a compelling foundation for continued growth in 2020. 

“We also expect 2020 to be an important year for our growing and developing product pipeline beyond Epidiolex as we build on our world leadership in cannabinoid science.

“We are focused on advancing nabiximols in the US in several indications and clinical programs with other potential products whilst continuing to bring Epidiolex to more patients in the US and Europe.”

GW plans further significant US commercialisation through 2020 and intends to focus on broadening the prescriber base, expanding payer coverage, entering long term care segment, and launch its Tuberous Sclerosis Complex indication.

A European launch is underway; Germany led the way in Q4 2019 and the company has secured a positive NICE recommendation in the UK with a commercial debut scheduled during this first quarter of the new year. 

Commercial launches in France, Spain and Italy are expected later this year.

On another front, GW Pharma is set to regain exclusive UK commercialisation rights for Sativex® (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD)) from Bayer plc.

Sativex, often known by the USAN name nabiximols, is a complex botanical formulation that contains the principal cannabinoids THC and CBD in addition to specific minor cannabinoids and other non-cannabinoid components. 

Nabiximols is indicated in the treatment of spasticity due to multiple sclerosis.

Since it was approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency in 2010, Bayer has been responsible for the marketing of nabiximols in the UK. Under the terms of the agreement, there will be a transitional period until  December 31 at which point GW will take over all responsibilities for nabiximols in the UK.

In the interim, Bayer and GW will work closely to ensure a seamless transition for healthcare professionals and patients, with marketing transferring to GW during 2020.

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Publié dans #UK