#21toWatch shortlist of people, companies and ‘things’ revealed
The 2020 shortlist for the coveted #21toWatch Awards includes some of the most daring entrepreneurs and innovations from our region.
Out of hundreds of entries received, 246 qualified candidates made it onto a longlist, which has now been whittled down to a shortlist of 56, featuring a dynamic mix of people, companies and ‘things’.
Winners of the awards, run by Burwell-based Cofinitive and supported by the Cambridge Independent, will be unveiled at an event at Arm on March 5.
The shortlist of people includes:
- Callum Coombes, CEO at Safepoint, which has created an app to keep lone-workers safe. Callum is also non-executive director at Menta and an active member of the East Anglian business community, working to make entrepreneurialism more accessible regionally.
- Beth Singler, junior research fellow in AI at Homerton College, who is exploring the social, philosophical, ethical and religious implications of advances in AI and robotics from an anthropological perspective.
- Fotis Fotiadis, CEO and co-founder of Entomics in Cambridge, which is developing technology to support insect biomass conversion, where food waste is converted into useful energy by feeding it to insects, which in turn can be used for high-value animal food.
- Ruchi Sharma, of Stemnovate, on Babraham Research Campus, which is pioneering liver-on-chip technology and offers multi-organ drug screening and testing on reprogrammed human cells.
Entrepreneur and Cofinitive founder Faye Holland said: “We are really delighted to see an equal number of women to men featuring on the ‘People’ shortlist this year. In key sectors where female entrepreneurs, founders and leaders are few and far between, this really is most encouraging.
“It’s also been exciting to see the wide range of industries represented on this year’s list. There’s been a huge shift from last year with ICT now making up 33 per cent of the shortlist, although there are a number of strong contenders in the biotech and medtech sectors too.
“We also have a stronger representation from cleantech and agritech as well as increased diversity around retail, industrial and more people-based solutions. All this is a clear reminder of how amazingly diverse our region is, and the huge opportunity for convergence and agglomeration we can offer these businesses.”
The shortlisted companies include:
- Cambridge Cancer Genomics, which is developing an AI platform to analyse and interpret tumour DNA, enabling oncologists to provide more effective, personalised treatment for cancer patients.
- Echion Technologies, of Sawston, which is developing advanced and sustainable battery materials for the super-fast charging of next-generation products at a pilot scale.
- Nu Quantum, a spin-out of the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, which has created ground-breaking patented single-photon components for use in photonic quantum technologies.
- Qureight, a Cambridge-based clinical imaging curation and analytics start-up, working with academic investigators, technology and pharmaceutical companies.
And some Cambridge companies on the things shortlist include:
- Foundries.io, which creates tooling and software platforms for building and maintaining connected devices;
- Rnwl, an insurance-switching service that is about to crowdfund
- Techspert.io, of Burleigh Street, a technology platform that uses AI to find, evaluate and source key opinion leaders globally;
- Xampla, based in the BioInnovation Building on Cambridge Science Park, which is creating a natural plastic alternative made entirely from peas.
The #21toWatch shortlist is independently judged by four leading experts across a range of disciplines.
For 2020, the judges are Isabel Fox, of Luminous Ventures, Tim Robinson, of Tech East, Siddhi Trivedi, of Entrepreneur, and Bruno Cotta, of the Cambridge Judge Business School Entrepreneurship Centre, who will all assess the candidates based on five criteria: innovation, challenge, influence, viability and memorability.
Tim said: “What impressed me most is that so many of the shortlist are people and companies addressing major real-world challenges in climate change, ethical AI, security, precision medicine and more.”
Arm and HSBC have recently joined the #21toWatch campaign as sponsors in readiness for the awards event. It’ll be one to watch in its own right.
- Brigette Bard, BioSure
- Callum Coombes, Safepoint
- Beth Singler, Homerton College
- Dr Kam Pooni, Glyconics
- Fotis Fotiadis, Entomics
- Giorgia Longobardi, Cambridge GaN Devices
- James Dean,Plastometrex
- Kane Halsey, Pickr
- John Cassidy, CCG.ai
- Katja Hofmann, Microsoft Research
- Kieran Miles, Duco
- Ruchi Sharma, Stemnovate
- Serena Belluschi, Majico and Mogrify
- Agile Analog
- Arete Medical Technologies
- Barocal Ltd
- Biofidelity Ltd
- Cambridge Cancer Genomics
- Cambridge Carbon Capture
- Cambridge Gan Devices
- Citispotter Limited
- Eagle Genomics
- Kalium Health
- Lightcast Discovery
- Nu Quantum
- OKRA Technologies
- Reflection Therapeutics
- Shift Bioscience
- Karmacoin Referral Platform
- PBD Biotech
- Sano Genetics
Meet the judges
Bruno Cotta is executive director at Cambridge Judge Business School’s Entrepreneurship Centre. He has more than 20 years of leadership and management experience working with public, private and third sector organisations, and has led initiatives to inform and shape world-class university strategic plans, international partnerships and innovation ecosystems, including founding the Enterprise Lab at Imperial College London to support the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs;
Isabel Fox is a mother, wellness coach, biohacker, Peloton enthusiast and horse lover. She also happens to be one of just a handful of female general partners in the UK, at Luminous Ventures, with a $30million fund and a portfolio of groundbreaking founders who are daring to disrupt the status quo;
Tim Robinson is the first chief operating officer of Tech East, the leading voice of the digital tech community in the East of England. He spent 14 years with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in London where he created a product technology division in 2007 and ran the information, data and technology business from 2010-14.In 2014, Tim founded his own marketing strategy consultancy in Suffolk, specialising in the technology sector.
Siddhi Trivedi is a multi-award-winning disruptor in technology with 30 years of business innovation. Her projects have featured in TechCrunch, Disrupt Berlin, Novo Nordisk Innovation Awards and many more. She is continuously searching for pioneeringideas that will change the world and features them on the global TEDx platform as curator and licence holder of TEDxLeicester.
What does it mean to get on the shortlist?
Kay McGuinness, of ANB Sensors, was one of the top 21 in 2019.
She says: “Being on the Cofinitive One to Watch Top 21 list in 2019 has been great for us. We were in the process of going through a funding round, and the recognition gave our potential investors greater confidence in us as a company and the products we were developing. As we go commercial this year, the award lends greater initial credibility to our offering as a new player on the market.”
But even those on the longlist needn’t be disappointed if they don’t make it onto the shortlist.
Richard Hobson, Herdsy, appeared on the 2019 longlist.
He says: “Just being on the longlist raised our profile beyond our wildest expectations. To be highlighted amongst Cambridge’s brightest and best put us on the radar of several high-profile customers and investors, and lead to our company being profiled in the Sunday Times, giving us national exposure.
“Being on lists doesn’t usually make that much difference - but getting on this one will change your company direction forever. It was a game-changer for our small company.
“People have actually heard of us now, and customers and investors Google us and rate us among the best globally as a direct result. How many lists can you say that about?”
This year, Herdsy has been shortlisted in the #21toWatch ‘Things’ shortlist.
More by this authorPaul Brackley