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#21toWatch 2023 opens for nominations as it is revealed that Top21 winners have raised more than £250m

Nominations have been opened for the #21toWatch 2023 awards by cofinitive, which has announced that £258,145,819.00 has been raised by its Top21 winners since the inception of the initiative in 2018.

The awards recognise world-class science and technology entrepreneurs, start-ups and ground-breaking innovation from across Cambridge and the East of England, and will be supported once again this year by the Cambridge Independent.

#21toWatch provides year-round exposure for all those who make the list.

Faye Holland, founder of cofinitive, and creator of #21toWatch
Faye Holland, founder of cofinitive, and creator of #21toWatch

Feedback received after the 2022 Top21 announcement event recognised that it is a “fantastic forum supporting the regional entrepreneurship ecosystem”.

Now in its fifth year, the #21toWatch initiative has showcased more than 1,000 people and companies. Of those that made the Top21, 47 per cent received funding since appearing on the list.

According to Forbes, who featured an article on the #21toWatch programme earlier this year: “Correlation isn’t causation, of course, but the figure suggests that a fair percentage of [#21toWatch] winners have commercial legs.”

University of Cambridge spin-out Flusso is a case in point. Having been selected as one of the Top21 winners in the Company category in 2021 and ‘Things’ category in 2022, the developer of the world’s smallest flow sensor, FLS110, has gone from strength to strength, announcing in August that it had been bought for £28million.

And picking out those that have gone on to big things has become something of a habit for those involved in the awards.

The week before the Top21.2022 were announced in March, Top21.2022 winner Porotech announced a $20m Series A investment to accelerate global expansion and mass production of its unique micro-LED products.

Two days after the awards event, DIOSynVax, another Top21.2022 winner, announced a partnership with CEPI (The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation) worth £42m to work on new coronavirus vaccines.

Faye Holland, director of cofinitive and instigator of #21toWatch, said: “We have already received over 100 submissions for the 2023 cohort, even before nominations window has officially opened.

“We are delighted that the majority of these are new to the campaign and have not been featured on previous lists. cofinitive is all about fostering connections, and we look forward to showcasing these entrepreneurial innovators within our local ecosystem and beyond, contributing to their exciting onward journeys.”

Unlike other awards programmes, it is free to make a submission and to be part of #21toWatch, in keeping with cofinitive’s consistent pay-it-forward approach.

Faye added: “What I love most about #21toWatch is the genuine camaraderie that exists between start-ups and entrepreneurs within our famed ecosystem. Previous Top21 winners introduce their connections to the #21toWatch initiative and even those who are not eligible to be listed know about the campaign and spread the word.”

Gemma Dorling, who manages the programme at cofinitive, said: “I have no doubts this is going to be another big year. We are very fortunate to have candidates submitted by the sponsors and partners, and the funders and entrepreneurial programmes. So, if you get an email, get on board quickly – the long listing is just the start!”

As partner for the awards, the Cambridge Independent is delighted to reveal the first three entrants to qualify and accept the nominations for their respective #21toWatch lists.

People: Colleen Sheridan

Colleen Sheridan, founder and CEO of luucid (59066714)
Colleen Sheridan, founder and CEO of luucid (59066714)

Colleen is the founder and CEO of luucid, which is protecting individuals against their drinks being spiked. The company is currently developing its first product: luucid sip, a drug-detecting straw that alerts you if your drink is spiked with ketamine or GHB (currently the two most prominent spiking drugs). Colleen is one of the 2022 Cambridge Judge Business School EnterpriseTech star cohort, a programme for entrepreneurial individuals focused on becoming founders of new ventures.

Company: Tailor Bio

Cover of Nature (59066720)
Cover of Nature (59066720)

This is a very exciting time for Tailor Bio with its vision to make precision medicine a reality for some of the deadliest cancers. Tailor Bio has recently been bolstered by the award of a second Innovate UK grant and, on publishing their research, the co-founders featured on the cover of global science research magazine, Nature. The research forms the basis of the company’s approach to understanding chromosomal instability in cancer, which it is using to develop a pan-cancer precision medicine platform.

Thing: Infersens

InferSens technology: The first use case of flow sensing technology for the control of Legionella bacteria in engineered water systems. (59066718)
InferSens technology: The first use case of flow sensing technology for the control of Legionella bacteria in engineered water systems. (59066718)

Earlier this year InferSens raised $1m to accelerate the core capability development of its next generation tinyML technology. The game changing InferSens technology enables deep learning (a performance-improving subset of machine learning) to be executed “on board” a device in the field using only battery power. Eco-efficient and cost-saving, it is projected to deliver immediate results and has multiple use cases across the built environment and beyond.

Make a submission

Closing date for submissions is January 13, 2023 and the shortlist will be announced in February. A panel of independent judges will determine the Top21.2023 who will be unveiled in a unique event on March 2, 2023.

You can make your nomination or submission for #21toWatch and find out more about the programme at www.cofinitive.com/21toWatch and by following #21toWatch on social media.

The Top21.2022

#21towatch 2022 winners at the Cambridge Union Society with Faye Holland, creator of #21towatch and director of Cofinitive. Picture: Keith Heppell
#21towatch 2022 winners at the Cambridge Union Society with Faye Holland, creator of #21towatch and director of Cofinitive. Picture: Keith Heppell

The winners of #21toWatch in 2022 were:

  • Christopher Cleaver, developer of DeepForm Technology
  • Jeroen Verheyen, Semarion co-founder and CEO
  • Kanta Dihal, senior research fellow at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence
  • Marcel Gehrung, Cyted co-founder and CEO
  • PhD student Mohammed Alawami
  • Unitary co-founder and CEO Sasha Haco
  • Psyomics CEO Stephanie Martlew
  • AgriGrub
  • Cambridge GaN Devices
  • CorrosionRADAR
  • Porotech
  • Psyomics
  • R4DAR Technologies
  • Sano Genetics
  • Antobot
  • bio-bean
  • DIOSynVax
  • Flusso
  • Forefront RF
  • HexagonFab
  • Sparxell

Look out for ongoing coverage of #21toWatch in the Cambridge Independent.

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