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MBA alumni triumph at Business Weekly awards

Two start-up businesses founded or led by Cambridge Judge Business School alumni have carried off titles at the Business Weekly awards held in Cambridge this week.

Goncalo de Vasconcelos
MBA alumnus Goncalo de Vasconcelos

MBA alumnus and Honorary Fellow in Health Management at CJBS, Dr Richard Mason, lifted the Start-up of the Year award for virtual biopharmaceutical company XO1, where he is CEO.

Then it was the turn of fellow MBA alumnus, Goncalo de Vasconcelos, who won Cambridge Graduate Business of the Year (a category sponsored by CJBS Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning) for the crowd-funding business SyndicateRoom, which he co-founded.

XO1 was set up with $11 million start-up capital from Index Ventures, Cambridge Enterprise and the University of Cambridge to commercialise a medical breakthrough being hailed as comparable with the discovery of penicillin. The company is developing an anticoagulant that has the potential to prevent heart attacks and strokes without causing bleeding. It is based on a naturally occurring antibody found in a chance discovery in a single patient who presented at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in 2008. The first clinical studies are planned for 2015.

Richard said:

XO1 is a fantastic example of Cambridge innovation, arising out of close collaboration between a clinician at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and a scientist at the Cambridge Institute of Medical Research, University of Cambridge, and supported by Cambridge Enterprise. We are greatly honoured to receive this award.

SyndicateRoom is an equity-based crowdfunding site with a difference, securing the involvement of seasoned investors to give confidence to new players and lead to more intelligent investments. SyndicateRoom was born from the founders’ own interest in investing in startups and realisation that they did not have the full expertise to go it alone.

Goncalo said:

It was an honour to receive this award. We have had an amazing first six months and we are delighted to see all our achievements in this period of time recognised by such a prestigious publication as Business Weekly. We are incredibly excited about what the future holds for SyndicateRoom and we won’t stop until we get the ‘Business of the Year’ award in a few years-time!

Executive Director of the Cambridge MBA, Karen Siegfried said the two winners were worthy testaments to where an MBA, undertaken in the intensive entrepreneurial environment of Cambridge, can lead: “We pride ourselves on being a top-choice business school for professionals with ambitions to follow an entrepreneurial path. In terms of networks, practical resources, and specific skill-based training for ‘wantrepreneurs’, CJBS and the surrounding Cambridge environment is hard to beat. We’re delighted that many of our MBA graduates, and indeed graduates of all programmes at CJBS, feel empowered to start ventures in a whole range of sectors, and continue to be ambassadors for the School in this space and a support to future cohorts coming through.”

Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning, Shai Vyakarnam added: “I am particularly delighted for Syndicate Room because I have seen the venture, and Goncalo, evolve from when the idea first came about to the flourishing venture it is now.”