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Startup innovation boost

£100,000-plus Innovate UK boost for two cutting-edge startups.

Abstract image of the UK lit up.

The UK government recently announced that 800 innovative businesses and startups are set to benefit from Innovate UK funding. Two startups currently on the Accelerate Cambridge programme run by the Entrepreneurship Centre at Cambridge Judge Business School – Tailor Bio and medwise.ai – are among the winners.

Oncology diagnostics company Tailor Bio (formerly known as PinPoint Oncology) has secured £67,000 in funding for the Innovate UK category: application of whole-genome sequencing approaches to cancer. The venture is using machine learning to find patterns in tumour DNA which can be used to predict a person’s response to cancer drugs. Their current test uses a biopsy of a patient’s tumour to predict if they will respond to a drug used to treat ovarian cancer.

Co-founder Jason Yip (MBA 2018) said: “I think that under normal circumstances, the startup journey is already incredibly difficult, and with COVID-19, this is made even harder. We’re very privileged that the UK continues to support cutting-edge startups through Innovate UK. We’re excited to receive this support from them, and hope to use the funding to advance precision medicine approaches to cancer.”

Medwise.ai has been awarded a UK government grant of £40,000 to further develop their not-for-profit platform to provide the NHS with free and fast official guidelines and best practice – initially and most urgently to treat COVID-19. Their artificial intelligence platform aggregates information from academic journal articles and national guidelines to provide healthcare professionals with the latest information on COVID-19 in a fast and concise format.

The service reflects the need for healthcare workers, particularly clinicians who are working outside of their specialist area during the pandemic, to be able to access the knowledge and information they need to treat COVID-19 patients quickly.

CEO and Co-founder Dr Keith Tsui said: “Although the number of new COVID-19 cases is falling in the UK, the knowledge we have about the virus and the disease keeps increasing and it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the latest developments. We need to equip health care workers with the latest evidence and guidance, so COVID-19 patients get the best care possible.”

Innovate UK is the innovation arm of the UK government. The £40 million government grant was set up to help innovations arising from the coronavirus crisis “while supporting the UK’s next generation of cutting-edge startups – helping to build the businesses of tomorrow and propel their future prosperity.”