When Should You Consider Adding a Language to Your Business

In this day and age most companies, big or small, offer a few alternative languages when communicating with customers. Either because they are international, or just because they’re looking for a way to level up their image. Because after all, once you’ve found your passion and successfully built an empire on it, it’s time to retire to the next best thing. But whether it’s your website, social media, or e-mails, choosing the right languages and hiring translators is a big ask for a startup. Here are some tips to help you know when you’re ready to take that leap.

Photo by Nareeta Martin on Unsplash


Looking at it from a solely materialistic perspective, adding a language to your repertoire will cost you some money. And if you’re not willing to spend on it, or if you don’t have the budget, the overall final product will look sloppy and lacking for those speaking the language.

So firstly, take a look at what you need to translate, and to what language. You can start by translating only your webshop, website, landing page, or frequently sent emails. These are all big projects that need a professional translator. And once a company has the budget for it, a translator can be hired full-time to take over social media, and other types of constant communication.

Choosing the Language

Another tale-tell sign that you need to take this step is if you live in an area where being bilingual is a given. For example, more than 25% of California speaks Spanish as their native language. This means that if you want to start a company in California, you will need to consider your Spanish-speaking clients and their needs because chances are, 10-20% of your clients will be native Spanish-speaker. It’s also important to know and adapt to the culture because that will dictate a different style of marketing you need to implement.

For people living in countries that speak solidly one language, this step can be put off until you start branching out. But whatever the motivation is, choosing the right language is crucial. For those who add a language because of a day-to-day language barrier, it is easier, because it’s clear what is missing.

For those adding a language to reach out to a wider audience, perhaps overseas clients have to choose the right demographic for their company and product to win back the money that goes into translation and possibly additional postal fees.

Branching out

Most companies looking to branch out usually have a budget to back up their plans. Branching out means a lot of things, but always ends up widening the horizon of the company. Either by reaching out to an entirely new audience, or adding a new headquarter in a different city, branching out is about the growth of a company.

And for a lot of people – especially those located in Europe – branching out means adding a new language to your arsenal. Taking into consideration the costs and headache of a new language, you have to choose wisely where you want to branch out. You need to consider the social aspects of the entire country, in fact, every speaker of the language. Not all Russian speakers live in Russia, and maybe after adding the language, you’ll be a hit among Russians living in Amsterdam.

The Most Obvious Answer

Sometimes the most obvious answer is the right one. A lot of companies after a few years decide to take it a step further, but they don’t exactly know how. Adding a new language to your image can be the best and most cheap decision when thinking about growing professionally. But if your language of choice isn’t that obvious, it can be overwhelming choosing the right one to add.

The smartest decision here is choosing from the few languages that are either in demand today or are soon to be widely known worldwide. These currently are English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Arabic, and German. Choosing either one is a solid win because you simply can’t go wrong by adding your company to the browsers of these native speakers worldwide.

While Google Translate mostly does the job, companies, and especially startups can’t afford to prioritize quantity over quality, because people today are craving for actual value when they reach out to someone. This is why even today translators are in such high demand because sometimes a robot just can’t do what a human can (thankfully).

So if you think you’re ready to add a new language to your arsenal, consider the value you give to your new customers and try to be as human as possible by hiring a professional, or a native-speaking student if your budget can’t allow it anything else.

How to Start a Career as a Home Tutor

Back in the day, home tuitions were not fully encouraged in society, but recently, with growing academic competition, it has gained significant importance. Presently, home tutoring is not only becoming necessary but is turning into a tremendous business endeavor. For people like underpaid or retired teachers, undergraduate students, etc., starting a home tutor career is an excellent and rewarding business option. It’s one of the most versatile businesses to start because it can be tailored according to your needs and comfort.

Here are some essential steps to help you determine the kickstarting possibilities of making home tutoring a career for you. 

Understand the business

The utmost requirement of a business is for you to know everything you can about it. Haste makes waste, so take your time and do extensive research about the business, meet people who are already in this business, seek out your competition, get to know the tutoring rates, find out what is required of you, and devise a plan accordingly.

Make a plan 

Before anything else, you need to apprehend your competence and understand the basic criteria of becoming a tutor. You’d need to consider the required aptitude for the specific subject/subjects you want to teach and contemplate your qualification and teaching abilities, along with the restraint and perseverance of a tutor, time and attendance management according to the student’s stance, whether you’d want to do it part-time or full time, your tutoring rate, etc. After you’ve laid down the facts, it’ll be easy for you to devise a plan that’ll help you determine your targeted students with the time and place for it to take place.

Identify your location

This brings us to the second step; determining how and where you want the tutoring to come about. Having a decent and feasible location is critical for your business to bloom. You’d have to establish whether you want it at the ease of your home, start it online, go to the student’s home, look for an academic institution, etc. 

Advertisement and awareness

Once you’ve figured that out, you’d need to advertise and spread the word of this business venture. Seek undeniable recognition by reaching out to schools, tutoring programs, send emails to the people you know, sign up on websites and tutoring platforms, etc. This is where Upskills Tutor Platform will come in handy. Upskills Tutor will help you find the targeted students in your locality or even remote areas (online via skype), giving you the best options and facilities to initiate your tutoring career. With the vast number of tutors and students on the website, legitimate agreements are made between the two parties for a perfectly reliable system. This step is crucial for you to find a profitable bulk of students required for a successful business.

Refine your business

All businesses need some time to prove completely beneficial for you. You need to tend to remain patient and trust the process as it advances. Learn from your mistakes and improve your business to make it flawless for it to stand out, thrive, and be the talk of the town. 

Why Your Ecommerce Store Needs An App

Over the last few years, the e-Commerce industry is witnessing a staggering growth of mobile solutions development brought forward by customer needs. Online shoppers value the freedom of doing shopping on the go more than anything today. Hence, the majority of customers prefer mobile solutions to web versions, as they offer unprecedented ease of use, flexibility, and convenience. 

So if you aren’t still on the ball, chances are high that you’re missing a lion’s share of profit. But don’t worry, we’ll lay it all out for you and reveal everything you need to know about ecommerce apps.

Why Ecommerce App Is No Longer Optional

Statistics demonstrate that ecommerce mobile app development is a mandate in the modern business world. The number of mobile app users is growing exponentially each year, leaving web versions well behind. 

Also, as numbers show, more than 30% of users turn to retail applications weekly, while 8% of consumers use ecommerce apps on a daily basis. While the latter number might sound small-fry, it may make a difference if we’re talking about generating sales. Not impressed by mathematics? Let’s keep on with the more convincing reasons.

5 Reasons Your Ecommerce Store Needs To Go Mobile

  1. Raise brand awareness

The golden rule of sales says that your company should be where your customers are. If we have a glance at the stats again, the answer is simple: your target audience has migrated to smartphones.Therefore, you’re left with no other choice than to go mobile. That is if you want to build a relationship with your consumers, of course. The more downloads your application gets, the higher your chances are to win over a new loyal buyer. Chatbots can add a little automation twist to your solution and ease the strain on the business. 

Push notifications are another lifesaver that facilitates communication with customers and boosts open rates. An interesting fact: it even beats marketing and email newsletter in terms of performance.

  1. Sophisticated technologies for the win

Mobile applications also open up a whole wealth of opportunities otherwise unavailable offline. Thus, native app development accounts for better performance and grants access to advanced app-in functionality. This includes such tech comforts as GPS, camera, calendar, and others.

Some of the very well-proven benefits guaranteed by this functionality lie in superior client experience and customer service. Also, it allows you to make your marketing campaigns more targeted and suited to users’ needs.

  1. Smart way to collect consumer`s data

Fetching customer data is what sets your business up for success since you get a profound insight into your focal group. A mobile application assists in capturing, storing, and analyzing user`s data, so you can keep tabs on consumer preferences and buying behavior. Moreover, e-commerce applications enable you to offer specific items that may be interesting to the particular consumer. 

  1. Faster, easier, and more secure payments

Inbuilt secure payment options are by far the fastest and most convenient way to pay. Since all account details are safely stored in the application, users won’t have to fill out their billing information over and over again.

Mobile payments are catching fire since they have been simplifying the way we transact with businesses. Additionally, they typically process much faster than swipe payments or inserted credit cards, so transactions are managed more efficiently.

  1. Increase customer engagement and retention

The physical shopping experience is not rife with brand interaction, since there are practically no touchpoints between visits to the shop. A mobile app, on the contrary, allows for continuous communication and customer engagement. By sending notifications and leveraging app functionality, businesses can update their users about upcoming sales, special offers, or discounts.

And for the record, a holiday season in the USA is the peak time for mobile purchases.

  1. Build up social media presence

Your mobile eCommerce app can become an aggregator of all social media resources. This way, you can drive traffic to other company’s platforms and embrace the power of social media to the fullest. Also, users tend to ask their friends for recommendations, and social sharing might become an invaluable asset in making your business more appealing.

Creating A State-of-art Mobile Application for eCommerce

Now that the importance of migrating your store on mobile is evident, let’s go over to the actual process of app development. The eCommerce industry is a special one since it requires a winning balance between design and functionality. Therefore, you should invest a lot of resources into making your app’s facade smooth, convenient, and appealing. 

If we count the numbers, the cost to build a mobile eCommerce app is also largely impacted by the functional UX/UI design.

Here are some essential elements for you to remember:

  • Intuitive user interface and straightforward navigation. The user-facing design of m-commerce is of paramount importance for seamless customer experience. Online shoppers need to find their way around the application in a few clicks. Therefore, the shorter your way to checkout is, the better.
  • Quick and easy signup. Convenience and speed are the points that we keep hammering home. A lengthy, verbose registration process will have a toll on your customer retention. To avoid that, we recommend implementing a one-step social sign-up, where all information is automatically pulled from social media networks.
  • CTA buttons. Remember those over keen sales assistants? Indeed, some customers hate being approached, but how can you encourage them to make a purchase then? Applications for e-commerce eliminate that problem. By including a couple of call-to-action buttons, you can increase conversion while being subtle and unobtrusive. 
  • Instagram photo feed. Do not hesitate to take advantage of all the functionality of social media. While Instagram is a mecca of creativity and aesthetics, it’s also a viable platform for generating traffic and boosting sales. 
  • Thought-out user scenarios. A user scenario is a cornerstone for UX designer thinking. Therefore, to win over more hearts and minds, make sure to hire a team of UI/UX experts to succinctly and explicitly capture what users’ perfect experience looks like. They will help you create empathy and take action based on user needs.

Top Trends For m-Commerce in 2021:

  1. Video content

Video content will help you zhoosh up your product description. The logic behind this is simple: it takes less time and effort to watch a short video, than reading long-reads. Videos also ramp up customer satisfaction, since they offer a 360 product overview.

  1. Augmented reality

Immersive technologies are another game-changer for the retail industry and marketing campaigns, in general. Such innovations as virtual fitting rooms or magic mirrors let users put your customizable products in their space, so they make a purchase with confidence. AR is also a no-brainer for piercing a memorable and emotional communication into users’ minds. 

  1. 3D effects

3D ecommerce uses a combination of augmented reality and VR to build different experiences that address your buyers’ needs in new ways. It provides a wide choice of engaging interactions so that the users can browse and interact with products in different manners. Also, 3D effects have become especially popular during the pandemic, since they bridge the gap of not seeing an item in real life before making a purchase call.

Essential mobile app metrics for your eCommerce store

Whether you’re a math enthusiast, financial analyst, or an internal stakeholder, metrics are how we all observe the performance of our venture. Mobile applications are no exception. However, unlike the traditional sales processes, mobile app analytics uses unique metrics and KPIs to track performance. 

Here are the key metrics for the eCommerce app:

  1. Tracking installs

Mobile app install tracking is when you count the number of users who have downloaded your app. Then, you assess this number against the marketing efforts made. However, tracking this metric is quite challenging, since some app stores don’t disclose the data. 

  1. Bounce rate

This figure refers to the percentage of visitors who left the e-store without making a purchase. The constant growth of this coefficient can be a sign of ineffective promotion.

  1. Retention

Customer retention is your ability to retain the buyer for a certain period of time. It is the direct opposite of Churn Rate, which demonstrates the number of users who left your app for good. To grow your retention rate, you can use the tools mentioned earlier (push notifications, e-mails, etc). 

  1. ARPU

Average Revenue Per User is a metric that helps assess the value of a product from a customer’s perspective. It shows the profit one user brings to the store on average over a certain period of time.

  1. MCF report

Unlike standard reports, Multi-Channel Funnels (MCF) reports are a perfect place to get rigorous monitoring instead of superficial checks. It allows for more sophisticated analysis, thus diving into multi-channel sequence data for authenticated users. 

In simple words, if the user jumps from purchasing within the app to the desktop version, this API will track his journey. MCF reports show how the user interacts with different data sources across multiple sessions on the path to conversion, and allow you to analyze the contribution of different marketing channels.

 The Power Of M-Commerce

Times change, and if you don’t dance to the rhythm you’ll hang back. In the world of retail, hanging back usually equals going out of business. A mobile e-commerce application is certainly one of those must-haves that takes your business and profit to another level. As tech advancements gain momentum, the process of buying through the mobile app has reached unprecedented convenience, speed, and security. All these translate into bigger numbers for your company and enhanced UX for buyers.

How to Handle the Ups and Downs of Business Ownership

As a business owner, you’re in charge of most business operations, and you’re bound to come across ups and downs; however, you shouldn’t give up. In most instances, before you hire employees and get a business premise, you might have been the only employee in your firm. You’ll experience a lot of confusion and stress before you attain your end goal.

As a business owner, the best way to handle the ups and downs in the business world without giving up include:

1. Hire a Team That Believes in You

The success of your company is dependent on the team you’ve hired as a business owner. As your firm attracts more clients, there is a need to expand your team, and they should believe in you as their leader and your firm’s mission. The employees should be motivated and driven the same as the business owner.

If you’re a business owner who is currently running a startup, you should know that each team member carries a significant amount of weight. The professionalism, attitude, and productivity of the employees will set the overall tone in the firm. Ensure the employees are conversant with your expectations.

It is advisable to hire young individuals, preferably college graduates. Considering that such individuals are fresh out of college, they’re eager to learn, and they will strive to push your firm forward. If the college graduates are tech-savvy, it’s an added advantage. They should also understand the importance of being innovative. As you hire more employees, you should consider hiring college graduates.

2. You Should Be Realistic

When it comes to failure, you should know that we cannot succeed in all our endeavors. As a result, your confidence should not fade away. There are instances whereby you might ask yourself what you got yourself into as a business owner. When you feel you don’t have enough confidence, you should go ahead and shift your perspective. Instead of assuming that every challenge you come across will lead to your failure, you should try and come up with logical solutions to every problem you encounter. Such actions will make a huge difference. 

You should be confident in your capabilities; you can seek some assistance from your mentor. You’ll also be amazed that your friends and family are also readily available to assist you in every way possible. In times of need, your network should be in a position to help even if you own a lot of stock in one of the 52 week low stocks.

You should know starting a business is not as simple as it seems; otherwise, many people would be business owners by now. As you begin your entrepreneurial journey, you should look into the potential challenges you’ll face and develop a solution to minimize the risks. For some business owners, having a supportive team and a mentor can make a huge difference.

3. Look For a Mentor

A mentor is more of an asset. You may wonder why? Well, a mentor has been in the business world for a long time. As a result, they have come across specific challenges, and they have overcome each one of them.

Before you became a business owner, is there any successful entrepreneur whom you looked up to? In most cases, the answer is yes! For instance, many people look up to the likes of Warren Buffet. Who wouldn’t want to become among the richest men in the world?

Your mentor will share some important lessons with you and also offer subtle guidance. If you make a mistake, your mentor will guide you accordingly. If possible, they can share some solutions with you depending on the challenges you’re facing.

If you don’t have a mentor yet, you can peruse through LinkedIn. The platform has numerous professionals, and you can connect with them.

4. Implement Agile Learning

Agile learning entails trial and error. Instead of having only one business plan, you should develop different strategies that you will improve and re-invent with time. By doing so, you will ensure there is reduced risk. The metrics will be more accurate. The morale of the employees will also be boosted eventually.

The only issue that may come about is the fear of failure. As you try out different strategies, there are the ones that will exceed your expectations. The main focus is on finding a strategy that will work for you while not worrying about becoming a failure.

#UK Immigration rules: Covid meets Brexit


The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020 but since then we have been insulated from the effects thanks to the Brexit transition period. This will end on 31 December, writes Clare Hedges, Legal Director and Head of Immigration, Birketts LLP.

Free movement of people will cease and from 1 January 2021, international recruitment and business travel will look very different. Whilst we may have been distracted by COVID-19 and much has been put on hold due to the pandemic, we should still be planning for what lies ahead.

The end of free movement means that British nationals planning trips to the EU in 2021 will need to comply with the local rules of any EU country they wish to enter. 

It may be tempting to see the EU as a block, in particular those countries which are members of the Schengen area, but individual State competence is expressly reserved for immigration matters, which means each country makes its own rules. 

Whilst the EU is encouraging all of its members to facilitate visa-free entry by British nationals for the purposes of tourism, this does not apply to work trips. 

If you are planning business travel in 2021, you should consult immigration lawyers in your destination country who can advise on local requirements. In the meantime, there is some basic information available online: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/providing-services-to-eea-and-efta-countries-after-eu-exit

Of course the change also means that EU nationals will become subject to UK immigration rules. 

EU nationals will not require advance entry clearance if they are simply visiting the UK. They can apply for entry at the border. 

They will be able to use automatic e-gates, instead of showing their passport to an entry clearance officer. This means they will not obtain a stamp. It is therefore imperative that travellers keep their own record of their trips, to ensure they comply with the rule that you can only visit the UK for up to 180 days in any 12-month period. 

Employers will also have a vested interest in keeping careful records. Even if an individual is working and paid abroad, overseas business visitors still need to be reported to HMRC.

The current immigration rules (which will be updated soon) allow a range of activities for business visitors. These include attending meetings, conferences and interviews, but business visitors cannot work in the UK. 

You do need to be careful as any allegation of illegal working carries stiff penalties for the employer and the individual and can also prejudice the employer’s Home Office sponsor licence. 

The Home Office will be well aware of potential for EU national business visitors to abuse and break the rules and so we do anticipate an increase in audits and enforcement.

If you need to employ an EU national in the UK in 2021, it is likely that you will require a sponsor licence. Current Tier 2 licenses are being transferred across into the new Points Based Immigration system, but if you do not already have one, you should apply now.

You should also encourage any EU or EEA nationals in your organisation, who are based in the UK, to apply now for settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. 

There is a grace period to apply until 30 June 2021, but anybody who is eligible to apply should do so as soon as possible. 

It is a straightforward process, completed using a smartphone app. There is normally no need to attend an appointment or send away documents and therefore the process can be completed in a covid-secure manner at home.

The pandemic has led to many employees working remotely, in some cases from abroad. EU nationals who have been spending time outside the UK need to consider what effect this will have on their ability to obtain and retain pre-settled and settled status. 

Whilst many may be tempted to avoid a covid-filled UK winter, they might just discover this is the perfect time to return!

• Feel free to call Clare Hedges on 01223 326 605 or email clare-hedges [at] birketts.co.uk

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#UK AstraZeneca and GSK back new Cambridge centre for AI in medicine


Jim Weatherall of AstraZeneca

A gamechanging alliance of machine learning and bioscience with massive global implications for human health has been launched in Cambridge.

The University of Cambridge has unveiled a five-year agreement with AstraZeneca and GSK to fund the Cambridge Centre for AI in Medicine (CCAIM). 

For the five-year duration, AstraZeneca and GSK will support five new PhD studentships per year. This program will enable the best and brightest young minds in machine learning and bioscience to partner with leaders in industry and academia, wherever they may be in the world.

CCAIM has been set up as a cutting-edge research group. Its faculty of 10 University of Cambridge researchers – in addition to world-class PhD students, currently being recruited – have united to develop AI and machine learning technologies aiming to transform clinical trials, personalised medicine and biomedical discovery.

The centre’s director is Professor Mihaela van der Schaar, a world leading researcher in machine learning and the co-director is researcher-clinician Professor Andres Floto. 

The faculty also includes Dr Sarah Teichmann – head of cellular genetics at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and founder and principal leader of the Human Cell Atlas international consortium.

Bridging the gap between the disparate and complex fields of AI and medicine requires building from both sides simultaneously. CCAIM brings together a diverse coalition of leading Cambridge scientists and clinicians, with expertise in machine learning, engineering, mathematics, medicine, computer science, genetics, computational biology, biostatistics, clinical research, healthcare policy and more.

These multi-disciplinary experts from the University of Cambridge will work in close collaboration with scientists and leaders from AstraZeneca and GSK to identify  critical challenges facing drug discovery and development that have the potential to be solved through cutting-edge academic research.

The centre’s research output and the implementation of its ML tools could be transformational not only for the pharmaceutical industry – including in clinical trials and drug discovery – but also for the clinical delivery of healthcare to patients. The CCAIM team already has deep research links with the NHS, and four of the centre’s members are NHS doctors.

Professor Andy Neely, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Business Relations, University of Cambridge, said: “The Cambridge Centre for AI in Medicine is a terrific and timely venture that builds on the strong relationships between the University of Cambridge and global leaders in the pharmaceutical industry, AstraZeneca and GSK.

“The depth and diversity of the CCAIM faculty’s expertise means it is uniquely positioned to deliver and accelerate the breakthroughs in medical science and healthcare that AI has long promised. I anticipate the centre’s impact will be nothing less than transformational.”

Jim Weatherall, VP of data science & AI, R & D, AstraZeneca, added: “We know the best science doesn’t happen in isolation which is why collaboration is essential to the way we work.

“This new centre combines world class academia with real-world industrial challenges and will help to develop cutting-edge AI to potentially transform the way we discover and develop medicines.”

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#UK Cambridge Wireless and Huawei build first private 5G testbed at Science Park


CW (Cambridge Wireless), an international community for companies involved in the research, development and application of wireless technologies, is teaming up with global technology leader Huawei to deploy and build Cambridge’s first 5G mobile private network within the Science Park. 

The new set-up will allow Cambridge’s world-renowned technology community to undertake cutting edge new digital research and application in key areas such as autonomous vehicles, clean energy and remote surgery. 

The 5G testbed will go live in January and kicks off a three-year partnership between Cambridge Wireless and Huawei, which will involve digital training, business support and joint events. 

The aim is to explore how advanced wireless technology can have a far-reaching impact on both society and the economy. 

“We are constantly working to provide value to CW members,” said Simon Mead, CEO of CW. 

“As home to one of the world’s most advanced R & D ecosystems, Cambridge is perfectly positioned for the rollout of next generation wireless technology and we’re delighted to be driving this initiative with our partners.
“We hope to bring something unique to the Science Park to accelerate use cases and development of this technology. We invite ambitious businesses to get involved and through this exciting three-year partnership with Huawei we will support their 5G innovation journey.” 

Huawei vice-president Victor Zhang described the partnership as a key part of the business’s ongoing commitment to the UK. 

He said: “Huawei’s success is built on a relentless drive for innovation and we are able to keep pushing the boundaries of technology when we partner with those who share this ambition. 

“The Cambridge eco-system is recognised as a global leader in technology and we are excited to work with the talent and vision in this eco-system. We hope to enable Cambridge Wireless members to reach new heights by allowing them access to our state-of-the-art equipment and markets including China and beyond. 

“Our commitment to the UK and industry remains as strong as ever and we will continue to offer our expertise and technology to our partners to promote connections and innovation.”

The 5G testbed will be based at Cambridge Science Park, owned by Cambridge University, which is currently home to more than 120 tech companies and scale-ups.

Additional partnerships with TusPark UK and Freshwave have been developed to accelerate the digitalisation of The Cambridge Science Park and enable businesses to exploit new capabilities, boost innovation and gain competitive advantage as they shift towards the adoption of 5G.

“We are looking for organisations who would like to create, accelerate and test out new and innovative applications and products on the CW 5G Testbed,” said Abhi Naha, chief commercial officer at CW.

• The 5G Testbed will be launched in January 2021. To find out more and how to get involved, call Abhi Naha on +44(0)1223 967 101 or email him at: abhi.naha [at] cambridgewireless.co.uk

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#UK Congenica raises $50m growth capital through Asian, Gulf and UK investors


David Atkins Congenica

Cambridge genomic data pioneer Congenica has raised a stunning $50 million Series C funding from one of the most international syndicates ever assembled for a UK deal.

UK blue chip business Legal & General is partnered by players from China, Malaysia and Oman in backing the digital health trailblazer, which was spun out of the Sanger Institute. It is based at the Wellcome Genome Campus.

Congenica is using the cash to advance both its clinical genomic analysis software and its data platform. Executives say this will drive further commercialisation of rare and inherited cancer applications and expansion into oncology, wellness and pharmaceutical collaborations.

The company’s technology already enables rapid and accurate analysis of complex genomic data to transform people’s lives.

The blockbusting Series C was co-led by Tencent (China) and Legal & General (UK) and included other new investors Xeraya (Malaysia), Puhua Capital (China) and IDO Investments (Oman). Existing investors Parkwalk, Cambridge Innovation Capital and Downing also participated. Lazard acted as sole financial adviser to the company.

The international nature of this important financing round brings new strategic and geographic capabilities that will further advance Congenica’s existing global footprint.

A pioneer in genomic analysis, Congenica has established a diverse, global customer-base of hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, academic medical centres and pharmaceutical companies based on its exceptional scientific heritage from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and as the exclusive Clinical Decision Support service provider in the delivery of the ground-breaking UK NHS Genomic Medicine Service. Congenica’s initial commercial success has led to a customer network spanning 18 countries.

Congenica will deliver advanced capabilities including the ability to integrate with existing electronic health systems and deliver fully automated interpretation capability. Underpinning Congenica’s value is its unparalleled use of a vast range of high quality data sources.

By integrating its software into existing systems and infrastructure, and further developing ground-breaking machine learning capabilities, Congenica is building a future where personalised decisions and treatments, guided by genomic information, can be routinely used to transform the health and wellness of individuals around the world.

Congenica CEO Dr David Atkins, said: “Genomic medicine is revolutionising healthcare, transforming outcomes for patients by providing clinicians with fast, accurate and early diagnoses and the information needed to provide life-changing answers for their patients, improving wellbeing and disease management. 

“This new funding will allow us to build on our established foundation in rare disease and bring the power of our platform to new indications and new markets.”

Congenica’s world-leading software enables rapid genomic data analysis at scale, performing 20x faster than industry averages and providing a 30 per cent higher analytical yield, reducing genomic interpretation costs by up to 95 per cent.

Born out of pioneering research from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the NHS, Congenica has a global footprint supporting leading international laboratories, academic medical centres and biopharmaceutical companies.

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#UK US swallows another Cambridge gem as Horizon sells to PerkinElmer for $383m


Horizon Discovery laboratory

The relentless march of Cambridge science & technology companies into US hands continued today as Horizon Discovery, a world gene editing leader, revealed it was being acquired by Wall Street quoted PerkinElmer for $383 million.

In recent weeks NVIDIA has swallowed Arm for $40 billion, DisplayLink was sold to Synaptics, which is already plotting major redundancies in Cambridge, and F-star reversed into a NASDAQ IPO.

The swoop by Massachusetts  based PerkinElmer for Horizon is an all-cash offer and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021.

It is all upside for PerkinElmer which says it will expand its portfolio of leading, automated life sciences discovery and applied genomics solutions to include gene editing and gene modulation tools. 

The acquisition will enable PerkinElmer to better partner with academic and pharma/biopharma scientists to help meet research challenges. It will also provide an opportunity to provide important tools for exploring next generation cell engineering and customised cell lines for relevant biological models – important for the future of precision medicine.

Horizon has been a sitting duck since incredibly deciding to part company with inspirational CEO Darrin Disley. The company is a leading provider of CRISPR and RNAi reagents, cell models, cell engineering and base editing offerings which help scientists better understand gene function, genetic disease drivers and biotherapeutics delivery. 

Horizon has approximately 400 employees across multiple countries, including the UK, the US and Japan and reported revenue from continuing operations of $75.5 million in 2019.

PerkinElmer’s discovery and applied genomics solutions feature a range of immunoassay platforms, high content screening (HCS) and in vivo imaging, along with microfluidics, robotic liquid handling technologies and next-generation sequencing library preparation kits.

Unifying PerkinElmer’s and Horizon’s complementary offerings across the genotypic and phenotypic approaches for drug discovery and development will help researchers accelerate decision making with better information, automated workflows and greater quality and control over data.

Prahlad Singh, president and CEO at PerkinElmer said: “One of the key fundamentals for molecular research and drug discovery is being able to knock down a gene or function and explore the results to discover actionable insights and new clinical trial candidates faster. 

“We’re excited to team up with Horizon not only to add CRISPR and RNAi capabilities into our existing portfolio but also to leverage our combined life sciences screening and applied genomics solutions to help propel the next phase of cell and gene research for precision medicine. 

“PerkinElmer leads with science and creates total solutions to bring today’s leading innovations together for our customers, while also working at the cutting edge of what’s next. Today’s announcement delivers on both of these fronts.”

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Posted in #UK

#UK Cambridge companies help develop Covid antibody cocktail


The UK BIA Antibody Taskforce, a UK consortium developing antibodies for treating COVID-19, has reached a major milestone – the identification of differentiated antibody combinations that will be taken forward for further development as an antibody cocktail. 

Several Cambridge life science companies are in the vanguard of the initiative.

The taskforce developed an accelerated and rigorous multifaceted approach to create a pool of over 600 novel candidates and identified a set of antibodies with the greatest potential.

Ex-AstraZeneca executive Dr Jane Osbourn, CSO at new Cambridge company Alchemab and leader of the taskforce, said: “We have accelerated the standard timelines for antibody discovery, taking seven months rather than the industry standard 18 months, establishing a pathway that can be applied to future pandemics. 

“We believe that the most effective tool against COVID-19 will most likely be a defined mixture of two to three antibodies – so the effectiveness of different combinations must also be assessed.”

These candidate antibodies are the first to be selected for the next stage of development, following assessment by collaborators for potency. Assessment of their efficacy as a cocktail is ongoing; however, early indications are showing a potential competitively potent cocktail that is differentiated from other products currently being investigated in clinic. 

The candidates are poised to move into the next phase of development where further screening and safety testing will need to be performed.  

The next phase of the project will involve manufacturing of the selected antibody cocktails to support initial clinical trials in 2021 to provide essential safety and efficacy data.

Companies anchored in the Cambridge Cluster are very much to the fore in this activity: In terms of antibody discovery, they include Alchemab,, IONTAS, Kymab and LifeArc.

The antibody screening and assessment role features Abcam and LifeArc, while Kymab again features in the antibody manufacturing function.

Alchemab is a company highlighted exclusively by Business Weekly as a potential life sciences gamechanger, with Jane Osbourn very much the inspiration.

The company is steadily building its capabilities. It has taken lab and office space at Babraham and grown the team to 17 people. It has accessed samples for B Cell Receptor sequencing and antibody proteomic profiling from patients with cancer and neurodegenerative diseases in addition to the work it has done on COVID-19.

Alchemab is working on a key pharma partnership which should be finalised in the next month.

It is also putting down roots in Canada having recently signed a collaboration with Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (AMII) to accelerate the development of novel therapeutics to cure a range of diseases through accelerated adoption of artificial intelligence. 

As part of this partnership, Alchemab is establishing a presence in Edmonton – capital of the Alberta province – and hiring a dedicated apprentice to support advanced research sourced and supervised by Amii. 

Alchemab CEO Alex Leech said: “At Alchemab, we use a data-driven approach to learn what makes people healthy, and translate these findings into developing novel antibody therapies. 

“By partnering with Amii, we are enhancing our machine learning capabilities, which will be pivotal in building the next generation of antibody discovery technologies.”

Alchemab identifies elite controllers – or especially resilient individuals – and learns how they overcome or resist disease to develop novel therapeutics through its proprietary drug development platform. The company has a range of programmes across cancers, neurodegenerative conditions and infectious diseases. 

from Business Weekly https://ift.tt/3jOodGi

Posted in #UK