CIC co-founds Start Codon to deliver premier life science and healthcare business acceleration programme in Cambridge. Co-founders include Babraham Bioscience Technologies, Genentech, Dr Jonathan Milner and Dr Ian Tomlinson

Cambridge Innovation Capital plc (CIC), the venture capital investor focused on intellectual property rich technology and life science businesses in the Cambridge ecosystem, announces the launch of Start Codon, a new strategic initiative aimed at driving the translation of world-class research into commercially successful companies, in which it is a founding investor. CIC is joined by Babraham Bioscience Technologies, Genentech (a member of the Roche Group), Dr Jonathan Milner, co-founder and Deputy Chairman of Abcam and Dr Ian Tomlinson.

Start Codon will identify and recruit high potential life science and healthcare companies from across the UK and beyond, provide seed-funding, and leverage the world-class resources of the Cambridge ecosystem to reduce risk and prepare them for a successful Series A fundraise. The accelerator will be the first within the Cambridge area to provide life science start-ups with significant investment of £250,000, a full-time dedicated team of experienced and active mentors, and office and laboratory space (located at the Milner Therapeutics Institute within the Cambridge Biomedical Campus). Start Codon now plans to invest in and support up to 50 start-up companies over the next five years.

Start Codon’s executive team will be led by Dr Jason Mellad, previously CEO of Cambridge Epigenetix. Jason brings over a decade of experience in product development and commercialisation, building and managing cross-disciplinary teams, intellectual property protection and exploitation, and closing deals with strategic biotech and pharma partners.  

Dr Ian Tomlinson has been appointed Chairman of Start Codon. Dr Tomlinson is also Chairman of Apollo Therapeutics and the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst. He has more than 25 years of experience in the life sciences sector from academic research to biotech start-up to big pharma. Dr Tomlinson and Dr Mellad will be joined on the Start Codon Board by Michael Anstey of Cambridge Innovation Capital, Jo Parfrey, a non-executive director of Babraham Bioscience Technologies, and Jonathan Milner, co-founder and deputy Chairman of Abcam plc.

Dr Jason Mellad, CEO of Start Codon, explained, “Our ambition is to provide life science and healthcare companies with a unique combination of funding, facilities, mentoring and support to fast track their development and success. We are selecting the most exciting pre-Series A companies from around the world, and bringing them to Cambridge, helping to solidify the region’s position as a leading global cluster.”

Cambridge is the best place in Europe to build a life science business. Start Codon will bring together all the key elements, to enable emerging companies to rapidly embark on their growth journey. We are proud to have been part of the Start Codon initiative from inception and we are excited to support the world class businesses that will emerge from its programme in the future.

Michael Anstey Investment Director at Cambridge Innovation Capital

“The Cambridge ecosystem has already created over a dozen billion-pound businesses and we see Start Codon as an important facilitator in creating more such successes.”

Professor Andy Neely, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Business Relations at the University of Cambridge, commented, “Start Codon is an excellent new initiative which I am delighted to see join the Cambridge ecosystem. It combines the constituent parts that make Cambridge such a fertile place for germinating and growing companies and provides both significant funding and management support to accelerate the pace at which great science translates into fully formed businesses."

The first cohort of five companies to be supported by Start Codon is now being recruited. Start Codon is looking for companies with disruptive innovations that will revolutionise modern healthcare and platform technologies underpinned by strong intellectual property, with a particular emphasis on novel therapeutics, diagnostics, medtech and digital health.