Accelerators: fast track to success

Our next Life Sciences Dinner will take place on 11 June at Hotel du Vin in Cambridge, in partnership with Silicon Valley Bank and Taylor Wessing.  This is the latest in a series of events offering an opportunity for business leaders of life sciences companies to meet with their peers for dinner and discussion in a relaxed atmosphere.

We will be joined by special guests Jason Mellad (Start Codon), Karolina Zapadka (Accelerate@Babraham) and Nate Mayfield (Illumina) to discuss how to make the most of accelerators to fast track your business growth.

Jason Mellad is CEO & Co-founder of Start Codon, a new Cambridge accelerator backed by investors including Cambridge Innovation Capital, Genetech, Babraham Bioscience Technologies, Jonathan Milner & Ian Tomlinson, seeking to support the most exciting pre-Series A life science and healthtech companies globally.  Prior to Start Codon, Jason spent 5 years as CEO of Cambridge Epigenetix.

Karolina Zapadka leads Accelerate@Babraham, the bio-incubator and life science accelerator at Babraham Research Institute. A highly experienced biotech business developer, Karolina has been part of the Cambridge life science ecosystem for the past 8 years, including as a Facilitator on the Judge Institute’s Ignite Programme and as Chief of Staff for Innovation Forum.

Nate Mayfield is the Senior Director of Commercial Operations, Strategy and Inside Sales for Illumina business in the EMEA region, helping develop and deliver upon a multi-year commercial growth strategy.   He is also involved in the Illumina Global Accelerator, advising early stage genomics companies with their commercialisation and development of go-to-market strategy.

Attendance at this dinner is by invitation for business leaders in growth life sciences companies.  If you would like to find out more about this or future Life Sciences Dinners please contact Kerry Linsey or Iain Hopper.


Darrin is a life scientist who has been involved in the start-up and growth of many business ventures. In 2012, he was named Business Leader of the Year at the European Life Science Awards and in 2014 listed Horizon Discovery Group plc on the LSE AIM market, achieving a placement of $113 million, an all-time record for a life science company on AIM.

Peter is Co-founder of LayerWise, an innovative & award winning spin-out from the University of Leuven, active in metal Additive Manufacturing for industrial, dental and medical applications. Peter grew the company as MD to acquisition by 3D Systems Corporation in 2014.

Fiona was Founder & CSO of Heptares,a clinical-stage company creating novel medicines targeting G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), a superfamily of receptors linked to a wide range of human diseases. Heptares was acquired by Japanese biopharmaceutical giant Sosei Group in a $400m deal in 2015.

Molecular biologist Wolf Reik is honorary Professor of Epigenetics at the University of Cambridge and Associate Faculty at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, where he is a founding member of the Centre for Single Cell Genomics. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and Fellow of the Royal Society.

Melanie was Founding CEO and now NED of NightstaRx, a Syncona backed private biopharmaceutical company specialised in bringing sight improving treatments to patients with retinal dystrophies. Melanie is currently CSO of BTG plc, a fast growing Interventional Medicine company on the international stage with its HQ in London.

Cathy is Mentor to the Ignite Summer Business School Programme at the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (University of Cambridge); Senior Associate for the Masters in Bioscience Enterprise (University of Cambridge) & Visiting Professor at Kings College, London. Previously, Cathy chaired the UK National Stem Cell Network Advisory committee.

Richard works to catalyse early innovations and discover opportunities for collaboration and investment across Johnson & Johnson’s global healthcare businesses to positively impact human health through innovation.  Prior to joining J&J Innovation, Richard was CEO at XO1 until the company was acquired in a J&J Innovation facilitated deal in 2015.

Vishal is one of  Europe’s leading digital healthcare investors. A Partner at Draper Esprit, one of the largest and most active VC firms in Europe, Vishal is a qualified physician and chairman of the Digital Health Forum. Over the last decade he has championed deals across areas including diagnostics, devices & biotech.

Denise has over 25 years experience in the biopharmaceutical industry, in R&D management and as a VC. In 1999 she joined Nomura and became MD after heading the life science investment team investing globally in biotech companies. She led the Phase4 Partners MBO from Nomura in 2010. Denise has served on many US and European private and public boards, including Idenix (until acquired by Merck for $3.85bn).