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Biotech & Healthcare Venture Creation Weekend, Jun 2018

Back to Past VCWs

Doctor checking brain testing result with computer interface, innovative technology in science and medicine concept

Kickstart your entrepreneurial career and start developing your venture at the next Venture Creation Weekend on 1-3 June 2018 at Cambridge Judge Business School. It’s a chance to test your biotech or healthcare business idea, build a team and pitch to investors in 50 hours!

  • Are you interested in getting involved in entrepreneurship in biotech and healthcare?
  • Do you have a novel biotech/healthcare idea or application that would transform the lives of many people?

The Entrepreneurship Centre is working in partnership with AstraZeneca to offer aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators the chance to explore opportunities, ideas and applications in a range of technologies such as:

  • novel biological targets
  • therapeutics and research technologies
  • digital health (including artificial intelligence, connected data sets)
  • diagnostics or any transformative healthcare solution.

Why attend the Biotech & Healthcare VCW?

It’s a chance to create, test and validate your biotech or healthcare venture idea or application with industry experts. You can get inspiration from your peers and mentors, learn the basics of building a business and how to collaborate with others in a team environment. Some of you can go ‘founder-dating’, i.e. use the weekend to match up with one or more co-founders for your business. All participants will work together in teams on customer development, business models, pitching practice and building product prototypes (where appropriate). The most popular ideas are pitched to a panel of judges formed of industry leaders and investors who can provide expert feedback and analysis.

At the end of the VCW, you will have developed your entrepreneurial skills, kick-started your venture, enjoyed the buzz of exploring and creating ideas; and potentially be ready to launch your business together with a talented team.

In addition, one or more of the participating teams will be invited for an interview to join our Accelerate Cambridge incubator programme delivered by the CJBS Entrepreneurship Centre. Please note that successful application is dependent on whether the team meets the selection criteria.

One of the teams will receive an invitation to AstraZeneca Exchange Cambridge, a global life science networking event at the end of June 2018.

Find out more about the content and format of the CJBS Venture Creation Weekends

When is it?

The Biotech & Healthcare VCW starts promptly at 16:30 on Friday 1 June and ends at 19:00 on Sunday 3 June.

The exact dates and times are: 

  • Fri 1 June 2018, 16:30-17:30 – Keynote speaker (open to everyone)
  • Fri 1 June 2018, 17:30-23:00
  • Sat 2 June 2018, 08:30-23:00
  • Sun 3 June 2018, 08:30-19:00 (followed by a dinner* from 19:00 to close)

* Please note there is a special closing dinner following the final pitches to celebrate the achievements of the weekend.

The venue is Cambridge Judge Business School, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1AG. View our location and directions

What is the VCW like?

Testimonials from attendees at previous Venture Creation Weekends

This has truly been an unforgettable weekend and the mentorship offered was fantastic. Thank you for bringing us all together it has been an amazing experience to begin our journey. A special thank you to Hanadi… thank you for inspiring us all.
Thushara Sabreen, November 2016 VCW
The weekend was absolutely great. One’s creativity muscle is really being challenged in a weekend like this, with the high pace and pressure. The mentors and facilitators were amazing.
Thomas Christensen, Student at the Copenhagen Business Academy, DisruptEd VCW, March 2017

in partnership with

AstraZeneca logo

Contact us

Email: [email protected]
Tel: +44 (0)1223 760959

Engage with us

Follow the CJBS Entrepreneurship Centre on Twitter

Follow the CJBS Venture Creation Weekend on Twitter

Hashtag #CamVCW

Watch video interviews with mentors

Video interviews with the expert mentors who will be joining the weekend to contribute to the development of team ideas. What kind of support will AstraZeneca’s mentors give at the Venture Creation Weekend?

Watch the videos

A high-performing team is the key to a successful business

An idea can be generated by one person, but translating that idea to reality takes a high-performing team. Steve Twait, AstraZeneca, explores the common characteristics of high-performing teams.

Read more

Friday 1 June 2018


Registration at Cambridge Judge Business School

Foyer, CJBS


Keynote speaker, Sunil Shah, CEO, O2h Ventures



Buffet Dinner & Networking

venue tbc


Welcome & introduction, Hanadi Jabado, EC



Half-Baked session



Pitch your idea



Vote for your favourite ideas



Team building



Teams work on their ideas

Break out rooms

Saturday 2 June 2018


Arrival and refreshments; Sign up for mentoring sessions

Common Room, CJBS


Business Model Canvas presentation, Hanadi Jabado



Teams work on their ideas

Break out spaces


Tea / Coffee break and Sign up for mentoring sessions

Foyer, CJBS


Teams work on their ideas

Break out spaces


Sandwich Lunch

Common Room, CJBS


Teams check-in, report progress and call for help

Common Room, CJBS



4th/6th floor pods


Tea / Coffee break

Common Room, CJBS



4th/6th floor pods


Networking over beer and pizza

Common Room, CJBS


Teams check-in, report progress and call for help

Foyer, CJBS


Teams work on their ideas

Break out spaces

Sunday 3 June 2018


Arrival and breakfast refreshments

Common Room, CJBS


How to pitch your idea, Hanadi Jabado



Teams work on their ideas / prepare for mentoring

Break out spaces



4th/6th floor pods


Tea / Coffee available

Common room



4th/6th floor pods


Sandwich Lunch

Common room


Teams finalise presentations

Break out spaces


Tea / Coffee available

Common room


All presentations should be submitted and uploaded on PC



Final Presentations



Break and Judging


Winners announced and Awards presented






Closing Dinner

Royal Cambridge Hotel

Keynote speaker

Sunil Shah


O2h Ventures

A serial entrepreneur having begun a career in the Life Sciences team at PA Consulting group followed by co-founding two companies in the information technology and life sciences sector. The second of these companies, Oxygen Healthcare Ltd was acquired by Piramal Enterprises Ltd (BSE: PEL). Sunil co-founded O2h Ventures which involves discovery services/collaborations, seeding drug discovery, academic in-licensing and biotechnology incubation.

Sunil has invested in 20 startups and has a number of Executive Director roles including Chairman of Exonate Limited, Executive Director at Opal Oncology, Non-Executive Director at Oxford Drug Design, Stemnovate and Board Observer at Oppilotech,

Sunil has a degree in Biochemistry and an MBA from the University of Cambridge.


Ruth March

Senior Vice President of AstraZeneca’s Precision Medicine and Genomics (PMG) function

Ruth is leading over 100 diagnostic scientists and experts globally. She is a member of the senior team in Innovative Medicines and Early Development, and is accountable for delivering diagnostics to drug projects. Ruth also leads AstraZeneca’s Genomics Initiative, analysing genome sequence from up to two million patients.

She led the build of Personalised Healthcare (PHC) within AstraZeneca, ensuring 80 per cent of clinical drug projects are following a PHC approach. She has achieved 19 diagnostic launches in partnership with diagnostic companies: linked to Iressa (EGFRm tissue and plasma), Lynparza (BRCAm blood and tissue), Tagrisso (EGFRm T790M tissue and plasma) and Zurampic (serum uric acid).

Ruth has pioneered innovation, delivering the world’s first drug label based on circulating tumour DNA (Iressa); first companion diagnostic partnership in next generation sequencing (Illumina); first FDA approval of lab-based companion diagnostic (Lynparza); first diagnostic approval based on both ctDNA and tissue testing (Tagrisso); first point of care diagnostic in gout (Zurampic) and first partnership for asthma point of care diagnostics (AgPlus).

She is a member of Definiens’ Supervisory Board and a genomics specialist with 50 scientific publications and patents.

John Lee

CFO, DisplayLink Corp and Chairman of the Cambridge Enterprise Seed Funds Investment Committee

John is currently Chief Financial Officer of DisplayLink Corp, a market leading USB graphics software and hardware business. DisplayLink is one of the UK’s most successful semiconductor companies. He has been actively involved for many years in the Cambridge technology scene and has been Chief Financial Officer and/or an investor in a number of startups, many of which have resulted in successful exits or IPOs.

Prior to his current role, John was CEO of Velocix, a leading provider of content delivery network solutions which was sold to Alcatel-Lucent and, prior to that, Chief Financial Officer of a number of early-stage technology based businesses.

For the past eight years, John has been Chairman of the Cambridge Enterprise Seed Funds Investment Committee and has been involved, for the past twenty-five years, in supporting the emergence of University of Cambridge technology.

Prashant Shah


O2h Ventures

A serial entrepreneur having begun a career with the Strategy group of at Accenture followed by co-founding two companies in the technology and life sciences sector.

The second of these companies focused on drug discovery was acquired by a public company. Prashant co-founded O2h Ventures which is involved in seeding, incubating and investing in early stage life science and technology companies.

Prashant has a BEng, MSc and an MPhil in Management.

Duncan Young

Associate Director, Scientific Partnering and Alliances


Duncan is in the Scientific Partnering and Alliances team at AstraZeneca – responsible for oncology and open innovation interactions but also acting as a point for contact for Universities.

Duncan has a wealth of experience in technology transfer and translational research. He joined MRCT as a Business Manager involved in the identification, protection and commercialisation of MRC intellectual property. As MRCT business model changed, Duncan moved into a newly created role of Business Development Manager to promote MRCT’s collaborative drug discovery capabilities, find new collaborative projects within academia and industry, and then source a commercial partner to help develop those projects to the clinic. These roles gave him experience in establishing and managing a wide variety of contractual relationships with academic, research charity and industrial partners, including shared-risk research, consortia models and licenses.

In recent years, Duncan has been responsible for sourcing over £3 million in non-dilutive funding for translational project, commercial licences of over £25 million in value, and led with Alzheimer’s Research UK, on the formation of the Dementia Consortium, a novel business model to bring together the charity and Pharma sectors to drive new therapies to the clinic.

Simon Todd

Science and Innovation Leader


Simon has worked at AstraZeneca for four years and is Science and Innovation Leader in the area of Devices, Packaging and Sensors, where he develops early technologies to a point where they can be implemented into AstraZeneca projects or external ventures. Although technology areas of interest are broad there is particular focus on injection systems, local access and targeted delivery, adherence monitoring and digital connectivity as well as smart packaging technology. Simon has also held roles as project lead in developing medical device mobile applications, giving unique insight into development of software as a medical device, and has been involved in the development and launch of currently on-the-market injection systems.

Prior to his time at AstraZeneca Simon was Interim CTO at a multi award-winning startup company from the University of Manchester, which develops medical device technologies, including biosensors and a novel treatment for oedema using microneedles. Simon played a pivotal role in setting up the new company and was responsible for all technical activities, including defining quality and regulatory strategies, key to taking products to implementation.

Simon has extensive experience of taking small companies through investment rounds including pitching to VCs and other investors, raising over £2 million in private and public funding. Simon has a PhD in Biomedical Materials Engineering from the University of Manchester and a BSc (Hons) from the University of Nottingham.

Julie Charlton

Director, Scientific Project Management, Oncology Translational Medicine Unit


Julie joined AstraZeneca in April 2015 from Prostrakan/Kyowa Hakko Kirin. She has a BSc in Biology, is a qualified teacher and gained a PhD in the Physiology Department at King’s College London (including a case study with Zeneca predicting transport across the blood-CNS barriers, working with Professor Mike Bradbury).

She has completed postdoctoral research and teaching at the Wellcome Surgical Institute, University of Glasgow from which her work was published in Nature Genetics.

Julie has managed oncology drug discovery programmes for University of Newcastle spinout company, E-therapeutics, including the company’s lead oncology development compound ETS6103.

She was Operational Manager for the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre in Newcastle, UK for five years and later managed the Newcastle Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) and was a member of the Northern Institute of Cancer Research (NICR) Executive Board at Newcastle University.

James Hoeksma

Senior User Experience Professional


James has introduced User Experience (UX) Design into multiple organisations as an internal discipline. He built highly performing teams, whilst creating business value by marrying consumer needs and goals into innovative solutions.

Having been at the vanguard of User Experience Design for 18 years, James lead in the creation and development of new approaches and capabilities within the user experience design practice, repeatedly selling the value of UX and extending engagements through delivering success and building on this.

James has supported global projects at every stage of the product development lifecycle: using the User Centred Design process and tools (e.g. user interviews, ethnographic research, concepts, design validation, implementation, launch, and post-launch evaluation). Throughout the engagement, continuously advocating user experience, and ensuring the teams remain focused on the customer success.

Katarzyna Szafranska

Information Manager


Katarzyna recently joined the IMED Oncology team at AstraZeneca as an Information Manager, being responsible for the scientific information governance management and aligning the communication strategies with the oncology pipeline business acumen.

Prior to this role, she worked for a CRO, being accountable for cultivating relationships with key business partners; and at Amgen where she conducted a business insight project to evaluate market share.

Katarzyna is passionate about oncology and neuroscience clinical research development, knowledge transfer, market insight, scientific communications and a new application of AI in the healthcare market. She has a strong experience in mentoring of startups, not-for-profit organisations and social enterprises.

For the past few years, she has been involved in many projects to support small businesses in the UK and global organisations such as; WHO, UNICEF and United Nations.

Paolo Vicini

Senior Director


Paolo Vicini joined MedImmune in August 2015. This is one of three global Medlmmune sites providing translational and clinical pharmacology and bioanalytical support for the biotherapeutic products pipeline. His responsibilities include establishing strategy, direction, and objectives for the CPD site and all aspects of CPD for products at discovery, nonclinical and clinical stages of development.

Paolo holds a PhD in Bioengineering from the Polytechnic of Milan and a MBA from the University of Southern California. His previous affiliation was with Pfizer Worldwide R&D in San Diego, where he was a Research Fellow in the Pharmacokinetics, Dynamics and Metabolism. Before Pfizer, Paolo was a faculty member in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Washington, Seattle, he worked on the development of data analysis software and the application of computer modelling techniques to clinical and preclinical data analyses in diabetes and cancer.

Previously Paolo served on the National Institutes of Health Biomedical Computing and Health Informatics Study Sectio, was elected Fellow of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) in 2011. He published to date 120 peer-reviewed articles in leading journals.

He is a member of the American Society of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, the Biomedical Engineering Society, the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, the International Society of Pharmacometrics, the International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics, the American Diabetes Association and of Beta Gamma Sigma.

Lorna Ewart

Head of Strategy and Enabling Services, Drug Safety and Metabolism


Her current role is to ensure successful externalisation of all safety and metabolism studies through key strategic partners as well as smaller contract research organisations and/or academics. She also oversees the data and information integration for the function as well as capacity and resource management.

Lorna has set a strategy for the function and is managing its implementation via scientific collaborations and key stakeholder inputs. More recently, she has been leading a team across innovative medicines exploring the future of drug discovery and development with a particular focus on translational models such as micro-physiological systems.

Lorna has over 17 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry primarily in the respiratory and inflammation therapy area. She has a unique blend of experience driving the efficacy (pharmacology) and safety (toxicology and metabolism) aspects of drug discovery and development.

She received her honours degree in Pharmacology from the University of Aberdeen and her PhD at the William Harvey Research Institute, London.

Lynne Murray

Respiratory, Inflammation, Autoimmunity (RIA) IMED Biotech unit


Lynne A. Murray has a PhD from Imperial College London in Immunology and Pathology and did a post-doc at UCLA. Lynne then moved into industry and set up fibrosis research first in Centocor/J&J in the US, and at Promedior, a startup developing therapeutics to treat fibrosis.

She then went to MedImmune in Cambridge, UK in 2009, and initially established MedImmune’s fibrosis research efforts, both internally and with external collaborators.

After doing an MBA at Cambridge Judge Business School, she went to work in the Partnering & Strategy group at MedImmune in 2013, focused on business development and external partnerships.

At the beginning of 2018, Lynne moved back in to research at AstraZeneca in the RIA IMED in Cambridge and is currently supporting the science strategy across respiratory diseases for AstraZeneca. She is also interim head of the Lung Regenerative Medicine group.

Steven Twait

Vice President, Alliance and Integration Management (AIM)


Steven has responsibility for AstraZeneca’s alliance and integration management (AIM) strategy and execution capabilities. Steven’s team leads the integration of all major acquisitions, the transitions for divestments, and management of key alliances for AstraZeneca. Steven joined AstraZeneca in January 2015, after spending 26 years at Eli Lilly and Company where he was a founding member of Lilly’s Office of Alliance Management. Steven is a well published author in Pharmaceutical Executive, PLG’s Business Development & Licensing Journal, and Strategic Alliance Magazine and is a board member and treasurer of the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals.

Nick Brown

Tech Incubation Lab Director


Nick Brown heads up the Technology Incubation Lab in Cambridge for AstraZeneca’s IT organisation. This group scouts new, emerging technologies and gets hands-on to pilot them in partnership with business customers across AstraZeneca, including R&D, Operations and Commercial.

Nick originally joined AstraZeneca in 2000, working within drug project teams developing software to analyse experimental microarray studies with thousands of data points. In 2004, he became a team leader in Advanced Science & Technology Labs, managing large computational clusters (100TB+) and designing automated image algorithms to screen millions of high-throughput screening images per day.

His passion for handling Big Data grew further in 2007 in a new department, New Opportunities, focusing on identifying new disease areas for AstraZeneca to pursue, through drug repositioning, in-licensing and acquisitions. Nick worked closely with external partners to develop business intelligence applications by designing an internal search based platform with over 60 million scientific documents.

Nick led the programme to deliver this from idea to enterprise adoption before creating the TechLabs to work with external biotechs, startups and research labs to apply new IT breakthroughs within AstraZeneca.

Hitesh Sanganee

Director of Emerging Innovations


Hitesh is currently a Director in the Emerging Innovations group. His main role is to participate and execute the open innovation strategy within the innovative medicines function in AstraZeneca. This involves collaborating with academic institutions such as MRC (UK) NIH (US) to identify novel uses for our medicines and hence build a portfolio of projects. He has also been involved in internal ideation events (open innovation within a large company setting) in AstraZeneca.

Previously his role was in the science function within AstraZeneca. His main role was as a chemistry cluster lead inputting into external and internal drug repositioning projects and potential in-licensing projects. Other roles have also included Candidate Drug Leader (CDL) working on regenerative medicine, and Team Leader in the respiratory & inflammation therapeutic area.

He originally received his degree and DPhil from Oxford University in chemistry and subsequently held a postdoctoral research position at Florida State University. He joined AstraZeneca as a Medicinal Chemist in 1999 conducting research within respiratory & inflammation related disease areas and has led teams to successful milestone transitions in all phases of drug discovery. He has over 40 patents and publications.

Muhunthan Thillai

Consultant Physician, Cambridge Interstitial Lung Unit and CEO, Qur8

Dr Muhunthan Thillai is a consultant physician and lead clinician for the Cambridge Interstitial Lung Unit. He holds a visiting research fellowship at the University of Cambridge and has written a number of research papers and book chapters and has given international presentations in his disease area.

He is also the CEO of Qur8, a clinical data analytics company which is currently on the accelerate programme at Cambridge Judge Business School. Qur8 aims to analyse high quality clinical data and work with software companies to support next generation AI to better manage a range of diseases.

David Weston

Digital Programme Lead


David Weston is the Digital Programme Lead in AstraZeneca’s Innovative Medicines and Early Development (IMED) Biotech Unit, where he is responsible for identifying innovative digital technologies and capabilities for use within the early R&D portfolio.

A neuroscientist by training, David holds a PhD in Molecular Neuroscience from the University of Cambridge, where he investigated the structure and function of ligand-gated ion channels in both eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms.

Prior to joining AstraZeneca, David was a strategy consultant for PwC’s Strategy& where he advised Life Sciences companies and public organisations on topics related to R&D strategy, M&A, pricing and market access, and growth strategy. David maintains an active network in Cambridge, London and beyond and interacts with numerous startups, particularly within the digital health space. He is also interested in entrepreneurship and understanding how pharma can support innovation.

Startup mentors

Hannah Sore

Founder and CEO


PharmEnable explores new areas of chemical space that no one else is currently searching to enable the development of vital new medicines.

Hannah has over 18 years of research expertise, which includes extensive experience within the healthcare and drug discovery sector working in biotechnology, multinational pharmaceutical companies and academia. She has over eight years consulting and business experience across healthcare sectors at Frost & Sullivan and as a founder and Director of HFS Scientific Ltd.

Hannah is also the Spring Group Research Manager at the Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge.

Allart Stroop

Allart was Chief Operating Officer in the Elpis Biomed founding management team and organised the seed funding round for this Accelerate company. He was responsible for getting the early company operations and freedom-to-operate agreements in place.

Prior to this he was a consultant and sought financing for a single-asset, GSK spin-out company. At GSK, he was an early-stage Project/Asset and Program leader in its Biopharm R&D unit and headed the New Technology group focussed on bringing cutting-edge antibody engineering, selection and screening technology into GSK. Allart joined GSK following the acquisition of Domantis Ltd. (Cambridge, UK).

He was a post-doctoral fellow at the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at UCSF (USA) and has a PhD from the University of Amsterdam (NL).

Myriam Ouberai

Co-founder and Director


Myriam is the Co-founder and Director of Spirea, a recently formed spin-out company from the University of Cambridge, which is developing an enabling technology for targeted therapies in oncology, through a project funded by Innovate UK and IP group.

Myriam is an entrepreneur passionate about scientific innovation in Life Science and technology commercialisation. She holds a PhD in Chemistry and gained experience in various scientific disciplines (engineering, biophysics, and pharmacology).

Myriam worked at the University of Cambridge as Senior Research Associate in collaboration with MedImmune-AstraZeneca to apply cutting-edge research in nanotechnology to peptide formulation. From this project, a paper was published last year in the journal Nature Communications which won the Medimmune 2017 Global Excellence Award for best publication of the year.

Gustavo Cerda-Moya

CTO and Founder

Swift Molecular Diagnostics

Gustavo completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge in the field of molecular biology. He then went on to do a successful Post-doc also at the University of Cambridge. Using his knowledge of molecular biology, he Invented a revolutionary method of detecting DNA.

He now works full-time for Swift Molecular Diagnostics.