THE outstanding companies and leaders of the North’s life sciences sector – which is worth more than £13bn to the economy- were honoured last night at the 17th annual Bionow Awards.
More than 300 people attended the awards dinner in Cheshire, which saw medical technology companies, Blueberry Therapeutics, 4X Discovery, Zilico and LightOx all win prizes for the application of their cutting edge technologies to the life sciences sector. Alby Pattison, founder of North East company Hart Biologics received the coveted Outstanding Contribution Award.
Alderley Park based Blueberry Therapeutics received the sought-after Company of the Year award and is applying nanotechnology to the delivery of medicines for difficult-to-treat skin and nail infections. Blueberry has had a remarkable year, including its BB2603 Phase I/II trial of 46 patients trial successfully meeting its primary endpoint in patients with both onychomycosis (fungal nail infection) and concomitant tinea pedis (athletes foot), as well as completing its £10m series B Fundraising.
Manchester based C4X Discovery celebrated the only double win on the night, achieving the Bionow Project of the Year award for the development of Orexin-1 Receptor Antagonists for the Treatment of Addiction, while its Lead Software Developer Phil Muwanga won in the prestigious Promising Technologist of the Year category. Phil is applying gaming technology and virtual reality to revolutionise the drug discovery industry allowing scientists to visualise how drugs interact with our bodies at the molecular level.
Zilico, the Manchester Science Park-based med-tech company won the Investment Deal of the Year after raising £13.5m ($18m) to roll-out the sales of its device ZedScan which detects life- threatening cervical cancer much earlier than current products on the market.
LightOx from Billingham in the North East won in the Start-Up category. They have developed a unique range of molecular tools for use as biological fluorescent probes for cell imaging, and targeted light-based therapeutics, aimed at treating conditions such as skin and colorectal cancers.
Alby Pattison is an entrepreneur who has given a significant amount back to his local community and hometown, Hartlepool. Alby took the Outstanding Contribution Award on the night. Alby founded Hart Biologics in 2002 with just three staff and began manufacturing reagents used to investigate the blood clotting function in patients taking blood thinning drugs. During the last 15 years the business has grown into an award-winning medical diagnostics company which exports to 39 countries and is now a team of 43.
Alby Pattison is the current Deputy Lord Lieutenant for County Durham, a board member at Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnership, Treasurer at Hartlepool Rovers FC and a STEM ambassador. He also received an MBE in 2018 for services to exports as well as his work for local communities, charities and the economy in the Tees region.
The judges said he had “demonstrated a level of dedication to the sector that goes above and beyond the call of duty, in addition to being a leader in their field, Alby has also given a significant amount back to business and the community.”
Guests at the dinner at the Mere Golf Resort and Spa guests were entertained by writer, comedian and actor Robin Ince.
The awards, which recognise excellence, outstanding achievement and enterprise in a sector that is worth more than £13bn to the North’s economy, were sponsored Manchester Science Partnerships, Alderley Park, Appleyard Lees, DLA Piper and World Courier.
Geoff Davison, CEO of Bionow said: “Congratulations to all our winners and to those shortlisted – the 2018 Awards reflect the superb efforts by companies in the Life Sciences sector in the North to innovate and commercialise great ideas and IP into new medicines and treatments.”
“Despite the current uncertainty in the market place regarding the nature and form of Brexit, and scarcity of funding in the North, I believe our innovative and adaptable community will continue to find ways to grow. Analysing recent Government figures, we found that the North’s life sciences economy grew from £9.2 billion in 2016 to £13.6 billion in 2017, representing an increase of 48% over the previous year which is 4.8% higher than the national average. I look forward to reporting on continued growth next year.”
Rowena Burns, Chair of sponsor Manchester Science Partnerships, added: “This has been a landmark year for the life sciences sector in the North. Confidence amongst investors is high, and company growth rates are strong. Our growing international reputation is underlined by the news that a major new genomics innovation campus will be created in Manchester, thanks to a ground-breaking partnership between Health Innovation Manchester and QIAGEN, a world-leader in molecular diagnostics.
Rowena added: “It is fantastic to see so many wonderful innovative companies recognised tonight for their achievements, and as always, we applaud the great work which Bionow does to support the sector across the North.”