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Cancer Research Horizons renews partnership with Edinburgh University entrepreneur incubator programme

Cancer Research Horizons, the innovation engine of Cancer Research UK, the world’s largest independent cancer research organisation is renewing its partnership with the University of Edinburgh’s flagship Venture Builder Incubator which supports the commercialisation of data-driven PhD research.

Cancer Research Horizons, through its Entrepreneurial Programmes, will sponsor ten places for cancer-related research projects from across the UK to take part on this 16-week programme which aims to drive academic entrepreneurship by supporting PhD students and early career researchers to develop their business ideas, build their skills and secure funding. 

In 2021, the first year of the Cancer Research Horizons collaboration, eight companies operatingin the field of cancer were selected as start-ups for the incubator.

For the second year running, Cancer Research Horizons’ continued support for PhD students and researchers will play an important role in accelerating the commercialisation of ideas aimed at conquering cancer.

Laura Bernal, Venture Builder Incubator Programme Manager, said:

“We are delighted to be partnering with Cancer Research Horizons again this year. Our Incubator programme is designed to help fledgling entrepreneurs across all sectors of business build their skills and take their businesses to the next level and through continuing to build our relationship with the brilliant team at Cancer Research Horizons, we can ensure that we are supporting the commercialisation of vital research across 10 cancer-related projects this year.”

The Venture Builder Incubator, delivered by the Bayes Centre, the University of Edinburgh’s world-leading innovation hub for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, on behalf of the University’s five Data-Driven Innovation Hubs and Edinburgh Innovations, the commercialisation service of the University, will start later this year and builds on the success of the previous cohorts which have seen considerable success, attracting £1.8m in funding in the last 12 months.

Previous oncology-related ventures focused on developing early diagnosis tools and less invasive testing to enable improved outcomes for people affected by cancer. They included: OncoAssign, a precision medicine startup integrating AI and onco-diagnostics to deliver accurate treatment prediction; 10zyme, a start-up devising a simple method of detecting cancers through urine or saliva samples; ForceBiology, developers of a versatile, more accurate and cost-effective high throughput drug-screening platform for cancer and Therapevo, a screening platform striving to fill the gap between research and the medical testing of new therapeutic strategies.

Commenting on her experience as a participant in last year’s cohort, Estefania Esposito, Co-founder of Therapevo, said: “Being introduced to a network of Venture Builder cohorts past and present was invaluable. They all had different backgrounds, and even when they had similar backgrounds, they all added something: an experience, an idea or an opinion.”

Dr Alessia Errico, Associate Director of Search and Evaluation, and Entrepreneurial Programmes Lead at Cancer Research Horizon said:

“We want to inspire the next generation of scientific entrepreneurs in the field of cancer research as well as inspiring cultural change within the industry, so working alongside Edinburgh University and their Data Driven Innovation programme provides us with the perfect platform to do this.

“Supporting entrepreneurs on the journey from an ideation to venture creation is one of the most important things that we can do, so we are excited about what this next year will bring.”

The Venture Builder Incubator is designed to help fledgling entrepreneurs across all sectors build their skills and take their businesses to the next level.  Start-ups are chosen after an application process which is open to PhD students, early career researchers and academic staff from the University of Edinburgh or Heriot-Watt University, as well as early career researchers focused on cancer-related projects from across the UK.

Each startup is provided with £2,000 as well as business support through a series of workshops, networking events, mentoring, peer-to-peer learnings and access to the University of Edinburgh’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and its data expertise.

Applications have now opened for the Venture Builder Incubator 3.0. For more information visit

The early bird deadline for applications is Friday 22nd July and those entering before this date are guaranteed application feedback and the chance to resubmit their proposal and an invitation to a Bayes Centre Community Event. The final deadline for applications is Friday 9 September.

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