Versed AI, which uses state-of-the-art Natural Language Processing (NLP) to automatically map supply chains, has won the £20,000 first prize in the 2019 Postdoc Business Plan Competition.

The second prize of £10,000 went to Univursa, which is building a lightweight application to help public health officials detect and respond to disease outbreaks. The third prize of £5,000, was awarded to Cambridge Bioelectronics, which is pioneering a novel Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS) implant, with high-resolution stimulation for superior chronic pain management. Cambridge Enterprise sponsored the first and second prizes while Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC) sponsored the third.

The Grand Finale

With the calibre of entries continuing to rise each year, it is no surprise that the Grand Finale event at Downing College last night attracted a record-breaking number of attendees, comprising postdocs, researchers, senior members of the University, corporates, mentors and investors.

The audience was captivated by the presentations from the six finalists, that included: PoliValve, which is developing the next generation of heart valve prostheses; Pinpoint Oncology, which has developed a novel genetic test that benefits cancer patients by pinpointing the best drug for treating their tumour; and Inkling, which is developing graphene-enhanced windblade coatings that are resistant to rain erosion, thereby prolonging the operating life of wind turbine blades.

The presenters were then put through their paces with questions from the judging panel consisting of Iris Good, Cambridge Enterprise Investment Committee; Andrew Williamson, Managing Partner at CIC; and Ashutosh Trehan, President of Entrepreneurial Postdocs of Cambridge (EPoC).

Versed AI – Making connections through Cambridge Enterprise

Simon Baker, project lead, said:

“The market research we had to do for the competition helped us accelerate our startup tremendously. We were also put in contact with the most amazing mentor: a very experienced industry veteran who helped with business strategy, long term funding advice, and even client relations. The connections we made with Cambridge Enterprise will take us beyond what we have achieved in the competition alone.”

A word from the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise

The audience also heard from previous winners Giorgia Longobardi (RAEng Engineers Trust Young Engineer of the Year), founder of Cambridge GaN Devices, and Tongtong Zhu, co-founder of Poro Technologies. Professor Andy Neely, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Business Relations at the University, gave a short speech in which he expressed the great opportunity postdocs have laid out before them. With the infrastructure, the people and the expertise – there is no better place to find themselves than Cambridge.

The competition is run by Cambridge Enterprise and EPoC, and this year was sponsored by Taylor Vinters, an international law firm supporting the businesses which drive the innovation economy, and the entrepreneurs and private wealth that underpin them, and Hardcastle Burton, Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers, providing clients with a quality, personal service, building lasting relationships by fully understanding their business and personal goals. ideaSpace provided the six finalists with membership, including tailored support and office space, for 12 months.

We would like to thank everyone who helped to make this year’s competition such a resounding success, including the sponsors, entrants, mentors, judges and attendees of the Grand Finale.

The Postdoc Business Plan Competition 2020 will be open for entries in May 2020.