Spherox Pharmaceuticals Wins Oxford Finals of IMAGINE IF! Accelerator Competition

Dr Tom Peach Written by Tom Peach
Published on 24 October 2017
3 min. read

The sell-out evening at the Oxford careers service on October 12th was an inspiring showcase of the exciting innovation occurring in the Oxford ecosystem, and showed-off some equally impressive entrepreneurs and technology. Martin Ducker, from Spherox Pharmaceuticals, pitched his cell assay to block infiltration of the highly aggressive glioblastoma brain tumour and triumphed in first place with unanimous praise from the panel of expert judges.


Spherox Pharmaceuticals wins Oxford IMAGINE IF! Finals
Oxford Innovation Forum branch President Mira Kassouf congratulates 1st place winner Martin Ducker from Spherox Pharmaceuticals


The Oxford finals brought together the top 10 applications from a very competitive field of startups, each addressing a pressing issue in preserving human wellbeing: from healthcare to environmental conservation. Each startup’s pitch was the culmination of development and guidance from the IMAGINE IF! Accelerator mentors, each offering their expertise as veteran entrepreneurs and industry leaders in biotech and medtech.


As local winner, Martin from Spherox Pharmaceuticals will now pitch at the IMAGINE IF! Grand Finale, held at the Innovation Forum Leaders Conference in Oxford this December. This Grand Finale winner will receive a non-dilutive cash prize of at least $10,000, lab space for 6 months, access to a crowdfunding campaign, and further mentoring from industry leaders.

The innovative technology developed by other Oxford teams on display included air pollution masks, low-cost drug synthesis, smart building temperature control, AI-driven hospital ventilator management, bench-top NMR testing, ultra-efficient heat exchanger nanoparticle coatings, and smartphone-enabled athletic enhancement.


Second and third place in the pitch competition were awarded to HyperC and BioMe Oxford respectively. HyperC impressed the judges with their innovative MRI metabolism compounds that allow detection of cancer at an earlier stage with much greater accuracy than current clinical offerings. The team from BioMe Oxford also inspired the audience with their BioCapture® ingestible device, which is designed for low-cost sampling of the gut microbiome and offering numerous diagnostic and research functions.


Runners-up of Oxford IMAGINE IF! Finals
The teams from runner-up HyperC (left) and BioMe Oxford (right) who came in third


An expert panel of local startup executives complimented the evening of exciting new ideas by sharing their experiences and wisdom drawn from being a little further down the Oxford innovation community pipeline. Dr Susan Graham (BioCarbon Engineering), Samuel Conway (Zegami Ltd), and Dr Tristan Collins (Metaboards) together covered a wide range of topics including each of their personal journeys into innovation and business; their most rewarding moments as an entrepreneur; advice on balancing commitments and choosing the right time to launch; and stories of what makes Oxford a perfect place to grow an idea into a business.


For more information on the Innovation Forum Leaders Conference and to see Martin representing Oxford in the IMAGINE IF! Global Final on December 4th and 5th click here!

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