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How to take an exciting therapeutic idea to a successfully funded biotech

How to take an exciting therapeutic idea to a successfully funded biotech

By Sunil Shah, O2h Ventures, 19th May 2017

Cambridge is awash with entrepreneurs, academics and scientists that have dreams, ideas and innovations of changing the world in which we live.  Mainstream pharma companies are more enthusiastic than ever to buy into buy into early stage companies with great science to bolster their own innovation pipelines.  It is however, a very different challenge to start up a business in science relative to that in for example software.  Not only do biotech style businesses need more specialist funding, but they also require technical support in multiple integrated areas covering computational chemistry, medicinal chemistry, ADME/biology, regulatory/clinical path, and IP protection.  

The big question is how to move these early stage ideas out of the starting blocks are get them ready for downstream funding and collaboration?  O2h Ventures is an affiliate partner of Milner Institute and works hand in hand with them to remove many of the hurdles that pharmaceutical companies face when partnering with academia. O2h Ventures supports early stage biotechnology ideas in various ways with funding and targeted scaleable plug-in skill sets that can help a start-up move through the gears.

Seed Funding

O2h Ventures typically seed invests $25-$250k and often collaboratively invest with its powerful network of Angels and Angel networks such as Cambridge Angels and the Indian Angel Network to turbo-charge investment into the start-ups.  In the last 3-4 years O2h has invested into ~20 companies, many in the Cambridge cluster as well as a few further afield in Boston and the Valley.  We are continually searching for exciting companies to invest in and some of them include Acacia, Arecor, Exonate, Opal, Oppilotech, Phoremost, Sentinel, Small Pharma, Talisman (

Plug-in Execution Capability

O2h Venture’s sister company O2h Discovery is a leading provider of integrated drug discovery services with an operational base in India employing 100+ scientists.  Capabilities, include medicinal (UK), synthetic, and computational chemistry in addition to screening (biological and ADME). The team at O2h Discovery has been providing integrated drug discovery support to many biotech and leading pharma across the globe for 15 years and provides the plug-in scaleable execution speed these start-up businesses desperately need to get to the next milestone.

The O2h ecosystem

We have a boundless passion for science and technology in O2h and we believe in working collaboratively in bringing these dreams, ideas and innovations to reality. We are happy to play our part directly and indirectly to push forward innovations through the cross-fertilisations of ideas and relationships.  O2h has a strong network across the pharma and biotech industry in the USA, Japan and Europe having been supporting the research of many of these organisations for many years. It also has a strong network of supporting research organisations in India.  O2h will look to leverage these relationships, where possible, to support its portfolio of companies.

Adding More Biology Firepower

A model for many therapeutic companies is to externalise the chemistry and some routine biology, but we have observed across many collaborations where the biology is complicated it is imperative to continue to run these studies close to the founding scientists. Phoremost, Heptares, Mission, etc. believe it is imperative to run the key supporting studies in house and/or local to the founding scientists. Currently, there appears to be a shortage of affordable, fit for purpose laboratory infrastructure in Cambridge for young therapeutic biotechnology companies. This is hardly surprising given the that biotech companies are growing at a rate of 40% per year and 11% by revenues in Cambridge.  O2h Ventures is working to help provide a solution to this issue: Watch this space.. . . . .





























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