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US life science accelerator due at ON Helix


By Mike Scialom


Rosemarie Truman, founder/CEO of the Center for Advancing Innovation
Rosemarie Truman, founder/CEO of the Center for Advancing Innovation

Founder/CEO of Washington-based Center for Advancing Innovation heads for Cambridge

The Center for Advancing Innovation, with Rosemarie Truman and team on site
The Center for Advancing Innovation, with Rosemarie Truman and team on site

The ON Helix life sciences conference at Babraham Research Campus on July 10 and 11, supported by the Cambridge Independent, includes a keynote from Rosemarie Truman, founder and CEO of the Washington DC-based Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI).

The centre was founded by Ms Truman in 2012, and is now “the world’s largest virtual, award-winning start-up challenge-based accelerator”. CAI is a catalyst to launch companies around life-saving inventions developed by universities, hospitals and federal labs. CAI’s model has received several prestigious awards from the White House, Federal Laboratory Consortium, Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health and more.

Teams come into CAI’s ‘challenges’ and compete for the privilege of launching a company around the commercially viable inventions that can make a significant social impact. Teams also receive robust accelerator training and are surrounded by world-class mentors and advisors from large pharma, and venture capitalists. In prior challenges, teams have received significant media attention as well.

It’s a non-profit: the goal is to accelerate technology transfer and commercialisation of commercially viable inventions emerging from universities, hospitals and federal labs. But this is an accelerator of industrial scale, with multiple start-up challenges, and winners progressing to licensing negotiations.

Center for Advancing Innovation Rosemarie Truman + FI team
Center for Advancing Innovation Rosemarie Truman + FI team

“It’s my first time at the ON Helix conference,” explains Rosemarie, who spent eight months based in London and two years in Oxford.

As global strategy practice area leader, investment banker and entrepreneur, her backstory includes a dizzying number of major milestones. She’s led strategy engagements for more than half the Fortune 100 and spearheaded new strategy practice areas in innovation, digital, R&D, portfolio and IT strategy.

“My background is investment banking and strategy consulting, plus I’m very technical. Ten years ago, I was at IBM and launched and was the leader for the Innovation Strategy Practice globally. The goal was to help clients galvanise resources for companies so they could systematically innovate to drive growth. Growth breakthrough innovation is the core of how companies truly differentiate; this was our specialty.”

She adds: “Offerings were broad, I worked for 50 of the top 100 companies in the world. I was travelling 100 per cent for more than 15 years. So I founded the Center for Advancing Innovation. I’m using my for-profit skills in a non-profit world, and the aim is to try and make things better for mankind by launching new start-ups around federally-funded inventions. The end game is to use the Center for Advancing Innovation’s challenge-accelerator platform to boost entrepreneurial platforms, create knowledge-based jobs and launch new markets to commercialise life-saving inventions.

Rosemarie Truman, of the Center for Advancing Innovation, is presenting at this years ON Helix conference
Rosemarie Truman, of the Center for Advancing Innovation, is presenting at this years ON Helix conference

“Over the last four years, we’ve created disruption in the commercialisation landscape, including implementation and application. This is about inventing new models, forming relationships with universities, hospitals and laboratories and pulling together the ecosystem to launch start-ups around inventions to advance their commercialisation. We catalyse the creation of start-ups around inventions.”

The centre has a global perspective. “Thirty-seven per cent of our work is outside the US, of that 30 per cent is in the UK and a third of that is in Cambridge. So roughly five per cent of the CAI’s activities are in the city, and there is scope for further activity, perhaps including an investor forum which would consider pitches. The UK entrepreneurial sector in the UK is very vibrant,” says Rosemarie.

The centre has two major programmes under way. “The Freedom from Cancer Start-up Challenge is at the business plan stage,” says Rosemarie. “So that’s stage two. The goal is to launch 100 cancer companies.

“Then there’s the Virginia Beach Innovation Challenge focused on veteran health, which is open for entry right now, we’re actively recruiting and indeed this will form part of my talk at ON Helix.

“A third pitch could be in England, probably Cambridge. I would like to partner with the ecosystem that already exists as clearly it is already very successful at creating a strong entrepreneurial platform.”

Maryland is one of the US life sciences hubs Rosemarie references. “There are lots, so in Maryland there’s the I-270 Corridor which is a hub, there’s MedImmune with whom the Center for Advancing Innovation partners with along with University of Maryland, and TEDCO. California is a great hub.

“The center partners with more than 100 organisations. Key to our ability to launch the new start-ups is our partnerships – Johnson & Johnson, BIO, MedImmune, Knowbella, AngelSpan and more.”

Rosemarie Truman’s keynote talk, ‘How the Centre for Advancing Innovation is Disrupting Social Impact Investing’, takes place on July 10, day one of the ON Helix conference. Held on July 10-11 at Babraham Research Campus, the conference was established in 1997 and is run by One Nucleus.

Established in 1997, One Nucleus is an award-winning not-for-profit life sciences and healthcare membership organisation. Located at Granta Park, One Nucleus has 465 members and is headed up by Tony Jones.

The ON Helix mission is to “inform delegates of how to turn early stage inventions and ideas into innovative health treatments – new medicines, novel biomarkers, useful medical devices or improved medical practices”.

Last year’s event was attended by 325 delegates. As well as Rosemarie Truman, this year’s key speakers will include:

■ Jane Grogan, Genentech

■ Zhuocun Lin, Tuspark Cambridge

■ Malcolm Lowe-Lauri, Cambridge University Health Partners

■ Jane Osbourn, MedImmune.

Tony Jones, said: “I am really excited about the new format of ON Helix. An increased depth of content across science and business, exemplified by the keynote speaker faculty, which will enable attendees to go away much better placed for success.”

A one-day pass is priced from £150+VAT; the two-day pass is from £225+VAT. Prices are dependent on your membership status. For information on how to become member see onenucleus.com or call 01223 896450. A 10 per cent discount is available for readers of the Cambridge Independent. This exclusive offer is only available to companies who are not currently members of One Nucleus. Contact Nadia Shivji at nadia@onenucleus.com to obtain the discount code.

For more, visit onhelix.com.



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