Ten companies solving the greatest challenges in Climate Change
Congratulations to Bibliotech, winner of the 2019 Future Planet Awards!
The Spotify of textbooks, Dave Sherwood and the team at Bibliotech are enabling affordable and equal access to learning resources in the $65BN educational content market.
Having signed partnerships with every major publisher, Bibliotech just raised $4MM USD to expand their operations.
“Students want their educational content online, personalised and aggregated, just like their news, their music and their TV. Bibliotech can provide that for textbooks and more, and I think that is what investors are responding to.”
Dave Sherwood (CEO) Bibliotech
Thanks to our illustrious judging panel:
Ling Ge (Tencent)
Richard J Dilworth MVO (Foster Foundation)
Patrick S. Chung (Xfund)
Amanda Feldman (Impact Management Project)
And all our category our winners:
In the business world, especially in technology, fascinating alliances are forming. Witness the tie-up announced Monday by Google and JD.com, the No. 2 Chinese e-commerce player. U.S. media predictably played the move as a bid by Google, which invested $550 million in NYSE-listed JD, to inch its way into a China market that has blocked it for nearly a decade. JD will join Google’s shopping platform, and Google will have done a solid for a Chinese company, presumably pleasing Beijing.
But look closer, and the deal speaks volumes to important alliances. JD’s major corporate shareholders include Tencent, which counts JD as an extension of its retail-technology strategy, and Walmart. The U.S. retailer, in turn, has been noodling on alliances with Google for the better part of a year.
The alliances at play are worthy of a 21st century Bismarck of global commerce. Google and Walmart are allied against the arch-foe of Western businesses everywhere, Amazon. Tencent and JD are allied against China’s dominant e-commerce player, Alibaba.
Could Google, prevented from selling ads in China, view Tencent as its entrée into the Chinese search market? Tencent operated a search engine for years but sold it to Sogou, a small competitor to Chinese search leader Baidu. Does this create an opening for Google?
It’s a tangled web. And an interesting one too—especially given the state of the political world, including the tenuous conditions of U.S.-China relations.
(L-R) Tal Badt, Director of Business Development, Tsinghua x-lab, Patrick Chung, Founding Partner, Xfund, Lord Norman Foster, President, Norman Foster Foundation, Sophia Yen, CEO & Co-Founder Pandia Health, Douglas Hansen-Luke, Executive Chairman and Founder of Future Planet Capital and Lilly Bussman, Principal, Oxford Sciences Innovation.
Sophia Yen, CEO & Co-Founder of Pandia Health - Special Category Winner
Future Planet Capital is the world's first global innovation investment platform. Through a unique series of relationships and partnerships with top-tier university funds in Asia, Europe and the US, the firm possesses an unrivalled level of access to technology and life science companies from academic institutions and the "clusters of innovation" that surround them. The Future Planet Awards raises the profile of new and growing firms that will profitably impact global challenges. In partnership with Global University Venturing, The Future Planet Awards provide a platform for growth companies to engage with leaders and influencers.
Sophia Yen, MD, MPH, is the Founder and CEO of Pandia Health, the world's only female founded birth control delivery service, which offers care, convenience and confidentiality. Pandia Health offers the easiest way to receive birth control with free delivery, online prescriptions and automatic refills. As the winner of the UC Entrepreneur Pitch Competition at this year’s Global Corporate Venturing and Innovation Summit, her initiatives to make the process of receiving birth control as simple as possible have also been recognised at this years Future Planet Awards as the winner of the special category award.
Here is an exclusive interview with Dr. Sophia about how she is changing the way birth control is received and understood.
First and foremost, please tell us a bit about your background and expertise:
Thanks for having me! To start, I have 20 years of experience in medicine. I serve as a clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Stanford Medical School and graduated from MIT, UCSF Medical School, and UC Berkeley with a MPH in Maternal Child Health. I am the Co-Founder and CEO of Pandia Health and enjoy educating the public and other physicians about birth control, acne, weight management, and other adolescent health issues. I believe that birth control and women's reproductive health is so important, especially in the formative years. I hope to be a pioneer in this industry and start a genuine conversation to become a resource for women and young girls all around the world. I’ve had incredible opportunities, such as hosting a TedX Talk, to create awareness - I truly think this is something special.
What do you think is lacking in birth control education and how is Pandia Health changing the conversation?
We are trying to de-stigmatize birth control. Birth control pills and rings and IUD with hormone, implant, and shot can be used for more than just birth control. We can use birth control to treat painful periods, heavy periods, periods that cause anemia, periods that make women who have anemia worse, to prevent endometrial and ovarian cancer. There are about 5 different progesterones and 3 different levels of estrogens that can be in the birth control pill. so if you don’t like the pill you are on, there are LOTS of others to try.
Did you know that the top cause of missed school/work in women under the age of 25 is their periods?
We have launched #PeriodsOptional. We have a blog, a YouTube channel, and a dedicated website which we will be launching soon. A research study with 1000 women showing that FEW of their doctors have discussed #PeriodsOptional.
We are approaching this from parents of adolescents to adolescent women to perimenopausal women. I had the honor of speaking at my MIT 25th reunion during the TIM talks about #PeriodsOptional and we had women who were interested for themselves as well as fathers who had questions for their daughters and wives. We’re going to make women’s lives better by decreasing the number of periods, decreasing landfill via fewer tampons/pads, increasing school and work attendance.
Pandia Health is educating women through media, blogs, Quora, in person talks at schools, workplaces, sororities, online, youtube videos, interviews on blogs.
We are also collaborating on an academic paper to change the name from OCP to EPP. Oral Contraceptive Pill to Estrogen Progesterone Pills) to take away the stigma of it being for birth control. To take away this political football that they have made of women’s health. We already have POP - progestin only pills, so EPPs would be more clear and less stigmatized.
Women’s health is more than just birth control, it’s about being educated on every step of taking care of your body. Curious about the Morning After Pill, EC, Emergency Contraception, Plan B? Here’s What You Need To Know.
Are there any misconceptions about birth control and women’s health you would like to address?
Yes. This incessant menstruation is a modern construct. If we compare ourselves to women in Mali, Africa per Dr. Beverly Straussman’s research, we have 350-400 periods in our lives, they only have 100. They start their periods at 16, have 3 periods a year, 8 children, breastfeed for 15-18 months. We start at 12, have 13 periods/year, have 1-2 children, breastfeed for 3-6 months. It’s hard to get it into people’s minds that if you are NOT on medicines, then you should have a period every day (otherwise, we need to figure out why you aren’t such as thyroid, malnutrition, stress, etc) However, we have medications that can turn off periods safely.
Where do you see Pandia Health going and why do you think this new way of service is going to work?
We are building the Brand that Women Trust with Their Health. We are the ONLY women-founded, woman led, practicing reproductive health doctor-, 20+ yrs of reproductive health advocacy- founded/led company in this space. It took a woman to realize that we have #BetterThingsToDo than run to the pharmacy each month and that if women can’t get to their ob/gyn’s office for a prescription, then they should still have easy access to birth control. It’s going to work because we have made it work and because women want/need this service. Ask any woman on the pill, patch, ring if she is tired of going to the pharmacy and would like it delivered. I’m willing to bet she will say YES!
Congratulations again and thank you, Dr. Sophia, and your team at Pandia Health, for your achievements and exemplifying our mission to proliferate change!
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When Genome Research Limited agreed to license the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute technology and back the spin-out of Congenica in 2014, the Wellcome Trust was laying the foundations for a new cohort of biodata driven companies to grow and flourish on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus in Cambridge, UK. Today, Congenica is a trailblazing success story that Sanger seniors are keen to replicate.
Dr. David Atkins, Congenica’s new CEO, and Dr. Nick Lench, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, sat down with The Future Planet Blog to share their insights following both firm’s success in securing MOU’s during Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox’s recent delegation to China and discuss Congenica’s current plans for global commercial expansion.
In the winter of 2013, a new start-up entered into a partnership with Genomics England for the UK 100,000 Genomes Project – an initiative to sequence the genomes of 100,000 UK National Health Service (NHS) patients with rare disease or cancer. The genome annotation assessment challenge was known as the “Genome Bake Off,” in a nod to the much-loved British television show where amateur chefs vie to make the tastiest dessert treats.
The team gathered their seed funding and set up base camp in a portacabin on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, in Hinxton, Cambridgeshire, only big enough for a handful of people.
“Each company in the bake-off was sent 16 genomes to analyse,” says Lench. “We had a core team of 3-4 people and drew on expertise from Great Ormond Street Hospital in the form of myself and Professor Phil Beales, and from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, with key inputs from Dr Richard Durbin and Dr Matthew Hurles. All of us, co-founders of Congenica.”
“What was different about Congenica was that our team combined the bioinformatics and analytical capabilities from the Sanger with clinical expertise from Great Ormond Street,” says Dr Lench. “We were able to identify rare mutations that someone from a pure software background wouldn’t have easily spotted, and produce a clinical report.”
Their Bake-Off victory, announced in October 2014, helped to precipitate the launch of Congenica as an independent commercial entity. In November of that year, Congenica – now firmly focused on developing tools to support clinicians in diagnosing rare diseases, a platform called SapientiaTM – picked up its first VC investment from Cambridge Innovation Capital, rapidly followed by another from Amadeus Capital Partners.
The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute is a genomics research centre of global repute. It bears the name of Frederick Sanger, the British double Nobel Prize winning scientist who developed the initial paradigm shifting method of DNA sequencing that was used in the original Human Genome Project in the 90s.
“The Sanger Institute is a name that opens doors and minds,” says Atkins, “it's great to be around this free flow of innovative ideas and extensive network of deeply talented and inquisitive people. It’s an exciting place to work and we are very happy being here.”
Today, the Institute has a “BioData Innovation Centre” on campus and is encouraging other start-ups to join Congenica on-site. “We are a trailblazer for them,” says Atkins. “They see us as a poster child for what they want to do more of.”
It’s now been four years since the UK 100K Genomes Project Bake Off, and a year since the firm’s Series B financing round, when Future Planet Capital took a stake alongside Parkwalk Advisors, Beijing Genomics Institute and Healthlink Capital, while original investors CIC and Amadeus injected further sums.
Going from start-up poster child to mature profitable genomics business is no easy feat. “We are still early on in our commercialisation path,” says Atkins. Dr Atkins’ own expertise is precisely matched to this challenge. “My time selling diagnostic services to clinicians really woke me up to the challenge of rare diseases in postnatal care,” he says. “The diagnostic odyssey is a difficult, expensive and unsatisfying process. Nearly 7% of all births, or 3.5 million people in the UK alone, are affected by a rare disease.”
Over the past three years, the company has continued to improve and refine their gold-standard clinical decision software for interpreting genomic data, SapientiaTM. Now, they are concentrating on commercialising through a series of specialised partnerships. Congenica is already an interpretation partner in a number of large scale projects around the world, including in the UK, China and Portugal.
The company’s UK National Health Service partnership has also helped them to forge their credibility and prove their integrity, as well as refine its software for clinical use. “Our second set of partners are health delivery networks, including insurers,” Atkins adds, “thanks to our relationship with the Beijing Genomics Institute, we just signed a partnership with Digital Health China,” he says. During the Prime Ministers recent visit to China, Congenica and Future Planet Capital were among the British companies signing £9bn worth of deals with Chinese companies and investors. Congenica also has strategic partnerships in the US, including with the New York Genome Center.
The Chinese partnership is a particularly interesting one for a genomics specialist. “This is an attractive market because China is a key player in the genomics revolution,” Atkins explains. “They don’t have such deeply entrenched clinical methods, so they’re looking to adopt genomics directly into their routine medicine.” This is a significant contrast to the major western markets, where the hurdles to introducing any new medical technology can be very high. “Healthcare is a very difficult area to drive change, and for good reason,” says Atkins. “The barriers are there to protect patients. It’s up to us to explain the economic benefit and demonstrate the value proposition for something that is, on the face of it, quite expensive.”
With the time-frame involved, the willingness of Congenica’s investors to take a long-term view has been of critical importance. “CIC and Amadeus are very aligned, very mature and have deep insight on this technology,” says Atkins. “They know that a credible foundation is extremely important, and at Congenica we are continuing to prove that.” Future Planet Capital are firmly committed to a patient, long-horizon strategy.
“Recent years have seen accelerated and fundamental changes to the ecosystem of university research, commercialization and investment,” says Professor Jerome Engel. In a new article for The Future Planet Blog, below, he explores three of the most intriguing new trends: the rise of ‘university venture funds,’ the changing nature of corporate VC, and a big push from the government funders of university research."
A New Year is a time for resolutions. It is also a time of reflection, as we look back on twelve months of highs and lows for environmental policy – a subject closely intertwined with several of Future Planet’s core impact investment themes. We catch up with Nigel Saunders CEO of Sure Chill and Giffen Ott of Synova Power to see the how their technology is making a difference.
“Our shareholders are not like venture capital investors,” says Jim Wilkinson, the veteran CFO now steering the finances of Oxford Sciences Innovation, aka the largest university fund in the world. “This is a very different model which is all about encouraging patient capital.” Last month, FPB sat down with Jim to find out how OSI is putting that capital to work.
Few people are more familiar with the intricate and complex realities of “double bottom-line” investing than Elias Masilela. In his almost-four-year tenure as CEO of the US$140 billion South African Public Investment Corporation (PIC), the asset manager for Africa’s largest pension fund (GEPF), he not only grappled with the integration of investment goals and socioeconomic influence: he championed it on the global stage.
This week, we discuss our submission to the Government's recent consultation 'Financing Growth in Innovative Firms'. Published last month as part of the 'Patient Capital Review', the consultation sets out research and proposals for how Britain can provide the long-term capital required to scale and grow innovative companies. The results of the review are set to inform part of Phillips Hammond's Autumn Budget on 22 November.
On the back of a $4.5 million Seed financing round in 2015, SAM Labs – dubbed “the Lego of the internet generation” – has ramped up its mission to take its child-friendly electronic engineering toys from the playroom to the classroom. The three-year-old start-up is now winning recognition for its educational impact, including a 2017 Future Planet Award. FPB recently caught up with CEO Joachim Horn.
Today, the winner of the 2017 Future Planet Award for Healthcare is diversifying beyond its undoubtedly successful roots – keeping life-saving vaccines cold “off the grid” in some of the world’s poorest countries – and looking to take on the $90 billion* global refrigeration industry. This means new partnerships, new prototypes and, importantly, new potential investors. FPB went to find out more.
Bluepha, winner of the Future Planet Award for SUSTAINABLE GROWTH, is pioneering a revolutionary cost-effective method for producing bioplastics. This week, FPB speaks with CEO Terance Teng LI about his firm’s latest technical advances and commercial progress as they transition from the lab to the factory floor.
“Peter Thiel [the PayPal co-founder] studied Philosophy at Stanford. Ben Silbermann [co-founder and CEO of Pinterest] read Political Science. Brian Chesky [co-founder and CEO of Airbnb] studied Industrial Design. But now entrepreneurs with non-scientific backgrounds can’t even get meetings with most venture capital firms,” says Patrick Chung, General Partner and Co-Founder of Xfund.
On May 23rd a panel of judges, chaired by Lord Norman Foster, will quiz five fascinating start-ups, all winners of the 2017 Future Planet Awards, debating their merits in front of a live audience of investors and venture funds. The ultimate victor will carry away the ceremony’s top prize.
Since launching in 2016, Flock has raised half a million pounds from a combination of VC, angel and corporate investors. Pioneering a smarter drone insurance model based on Big Data analytics for quantifying drone flight risk in real time, the start-up has garnered interest from insurers, drone users and tech experts alike…and the first product hasn’t even been launched yet. In this week’s Future Planet Blog, CEO Ed Klinger tells us how they got started and explains why his investors have been “transformative” for the business.
Rajeeb Dey MBE, the youngest member of Future Planet’s advisory committee at the age of 31, has been founding and leading organisations since he was just 17. From entrepreneurial internship platform “Enternships.com” to professional learning services provider “Learnerbly,” Raj’s businesses have channelled his passion for reshaping the landscape of work and education in the 21st century. This week in the Future Planet Blog we pick his brains on start-ups, social impact and the “series A crunch.”
This week we speak with Lord Wei, one the judges of the upcoming Future Planet Awards. Launched this year in partnership with Global Corporate Venturing and Tsinghua Holdings Capital, these awards will celebrate the most exciting and innovative new businesses with the potential to address global challenges.