|Greenhouse event boosts growth prospects for Welsh life sciences firms|
A highly successful 'Greenhouse for growth' event organised recently by Oxford Innovation attracted start-up and high growth life sciences companies from across Wales to find out more about how coaching, access to finance services and business planning advice can boost their chances of success.
The innovative companies attending the event were:
• Footbed Dynamics, a Swansea-based pre-start which is developing a system for measuring gait with applications in general podiatry, diabetic, military and general footwear design
• Sarum Biosciences, based at the Institute of Life Science, Swansea University with labs near Tredegar. The company develops novel targets to pre-clinical stage and has also diagnostic assays in development
• Agroceuticals, based in Brecon, which grows daffodil bulbs and extracts alkaloids for use in the pharma industry
• Diagnostig, a University of Bangor pre-start which is developing point of care TB tests for developing markets
The two day workshop event held at the Cardiff Medicentre was part of the High Potential Starts programme designed to assist start-up and early stage life sciences firms with high growth potential to grow more rapidly over the next three years.
The High Potential Starts programme, now headquartered at the Cardiff Medicentre, is a key component of the Welsh Government's strategy to support sustainable high growth businesses and is delivered by Oxford Innovation, a specialist in coaching and business advisory services. The programme is jointly funded by the Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund.
Other recent initiatives include the highly successful BioWales event, where a major boost for Life Sciences in the form of a £100 million investment was announced.
During the Greenhouse event, Dr Chris Sheehan, Oxford Innovation's programme manager, explained how the company's practical business coaching service works by empowering management teams to create and implement strategies for growth. Other specialists from Oxford Innovation provided advice on raising finance and business planning and case study examples were used to illustrate the challenges that companies have overcome by the use of coaching and business support.
Dr John Clarkson, CEO of Atlas Genetics, gave his take on the journey of a Life Science entrepreneur and led the panel to select companies for intensive support.
Delegates also used Oxford Innovation's GrowthMapper tool to undertake an in-depth analysis of their businesses during one to one sessions with advisors.
Dr Sheehan said: "We were delighted by the interest shown in this event and impressed by the enthusiasm and ambition of the entrepreneurs who participated. All four companies pitched successfully for follow-on support and we are looking forward to working with them."
Professor Mark Baird of Diagnostig Ltd said: "For a very new company, this event was extremely valuable in showing what to do and what to avoid in building a successful business. This scheme promises to be a very effective way of helping companies to grow quickly and create jobs in high technology areas."
Dr Dave West of Sarum Biosciences said: "The Greenhouse event was an ideal forum in which to meet the Oxford Innovation team and find out in detail what the programme had to offer. It also proved to be a useful networking opportunity in its own right and I found that we had a number of overlapping interests with the course directors and other participants. We look forward to working with Oxford Innovation and embarking upon what I am sure will prove to be a constructive and fruitful relationship that will help us develop our business strategy in a number of key areas."
Chris Sharpe of Footbed Dynamics said: "This is a dynamic Welsh Government initiative for the growth of life science companies in Wales. Attending the greenhouse workshop has inspired our business activities and Oxford Innovation's coaching support programme will bring welcome resources to deliver our fast-growth strategy."
Support is available through the High Potential Starts programme for firms in the biosciences, medical devices and diagnostics fields and associated supply chain technologies such as electronics, engineering, advanced material science and logistics.
Services provided by Oxford Innovation include:
• coaching and mentoring delivered by experienced coaches who have worked at board level in growing companies
• advice on intellectual property protection and exploitation
• support with business planning and marketing
• access to sources of funding and introductions to potential investors
• workshops on business and technical topics relevant to life science firms
• access to business and knowledge networks
Oxford Innovation is a leader in business support and mentoring programmes for start-up and growing companies. These include successful high growth programmes for thousands of entrepreneurs and businesses across Cornwall, the West Midlands and South East of England that provide bespoke support for life sciences firms, as well as the management of the first national biotechnology incubator in Saudi Arabia.
The company also manages three investment networks that help companies to secure funding and a network of 20 innovation centres that provide a supportive environment for over 500 early stage businesses.