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Some might say 13 is an unlucky number. For us, it’s just the opposite. Although we usually select the top 12 entries, this year we found that 13 of the plans were so strong that an extra semi-finalist was put through to the next round. 

Application to the 2021 Chris Abell Postdoc Business Plan Competition continues to grow as online events, talks, and webinars become the norm during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s now our pleasure to announce that the 13 semi-finalist projects for 2021 are:

  • Accelerated Materials led by Nicholas Jose (Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology)
  • ARX Photonics led by Pawan Kumar Shrestha (Department of Engineering)
  • BioMavericks led by Andrew Guo (Department of Medicine)
  • Cambridge Conduits led by Alex Justin (Department of Engineering)
  • Cambridge Nucleomics led by Kaikai Chen (Department of Physics)
  • Camzyme led by Gavin D. Garland (MRC Toxicology Unit)
  • Deep Form led by Christopher Cleaver (Department of Engineering)
  • Ethicronics led by Franck Courbon (Department of Computer Science and Technology)
  • InnovaRNA led by Aristedis Sfakianos (MRC Toxicology Unit)
  • Photoreforming led by Michael Stanton (Department of Chemistry)
  • ProSpectral led by Gwenhivir Wyatt-Moon (Department of Engineering)
  • Shaping Horizons led by Matias Acosta (Centre for Latin American Studies)
  • Vitamin K Alex Patto led by Alexander Patto (Department of Physics)

These semi-finalist projects—and their teams—now advance to the next phase of the competition. Postdocs will be matched with a seasoned mentor from Cambridge Enterprise’s network of experts. Each team will have three (virtual) one-to-one meetings with their mentor to help develop key business skills and hone their business plans.

Up to six finalists will then go on to compete at the online Grand Finale event, which will take place on Thursday 11 November 2021. At the event each team will pitch its business plan to a panel of judges who are experts in spin-out investment.

Three prizes will be awarded: £20,000, £10,000, and £5,000 in funding. The first and second place prizes are sponsored by Cambridge Enterprise, with the third prize sponsored by our sister organisation, Cambridge Innovation Capital.

The first place winner will also have the opportunity to pitch at the next Cambridge Enterprise Venture Partners dinner, an investor forum of venture capitalists and business angels with more than £4 billion of funds under management by members.

We would like to offer a big thank you to all those who participated this year—and best of luck to the lucky 13!