What Two Start-Ups Excite Me Most? - Mostly Science

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What Two Start-Ups Excite Me Most?


This was a question I was asked today. After a few seconds, a couple of start-ups hit me. And whilst one is technically not a start-up, it is looking for venture capital funding and so I am going to include it as a prospective start-up.

Sunamp: an energy tech company developed from an industrial collaboration with the University of Edinburgh that is developing energy storage technology. I find this to be an ethical investment that has a demand-driven need driven by clean-tech/green-tech. They have recently expanded across Scotland demonstrating that their tech works, has been trialling novel battery energy storage devices for use in electric cars, have recently expanded into mainland Europe (having an office in Switzerland; hedging against Brexit-associated risk and demonstrating growth), and are now looking to break into the South-Pacific market.

So Sunamp was the first company, the second however is in the field I have my academic background in; biotechnology (my favourite sector!). The biotechnology sector is what excites me most as it covers a broad array of highly interesting sub-sectors (and I love having both broad and in-depth knowledge and work). This includes biotech-associated healthcare, biopharma, biochemicals and crop science. All of these areas are of exceptional importance to society as a whole and is immune to innovations in other areas (typically incorporating innovations from other areas). So it should be no surprise that the second innovation is what I think is highly-deserving of aggressive investment, despite the inherent high risk of biotech.

Prof. Glenn King‘s Hi1a compound. Prof. King is a well-established academic from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (University of Queensland; see the image above) who has developed companies in the USA (i.e. Vestaron) and who is now looking for VC investment for the next stage of development for his spider-toxin based compound known as Hi1a. This compound has been shown in murine models of stroke to prevent and reverse the effects of ischaemic stroke (responsible for over 85% of strokes), thus representing the first compound of its type. Its molecular structure has been solved and the mechanism of action elucidated (it inhibits the activity of the acid-sensing ion channel 1a , the molecular channel responsible for the effects of stroke). They have also shown that the murine receptor Hi1a works on in the stroke model has the same functionality as the human version. I strongly recommend the scientifically literate to check out his paper from earlier this year published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS); super exciting!


What are some start-ups that have you excited and why? Interested to hear your thoughts.


Disclosure: I became acquainted with Sunamp when I had invited the CEO, Andrew Bissell to give a talk as part of my research commercialization training program at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry. I know Prof. King as he was my supervisor for my Master’s thesis when I was at UQ. I however received no money for this article.

Dr. Christopher Haggarty-Weir

Vaccines, Immunology, Infectious Disease, Drug Discovery/Design, Molecular Biology, Business and Philosophy.

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