Kalium Diagnostics uses blood potassium monitoring to help kidney patients monitor their blood potassium levels and thereby reduce total healthcare costs. The venture, spun out of the University of Cambridge, brings together a team with world-class clinical, technological and product development expertise.
We caught up with two of Kalium’s Co-Founders Tanya Hutter (pictured) and Liz Norgett to see how winning the Accelerate@Babraham Start-up Competition has helped them to progress their work.
Was there something specific about the Accelerate@Babraham programme that really appealed to you?
Tanya: The whole package – lab space, cash award and biotech mentoring, which there is not a lot of in Cambridge – and the fact that it all comes together to enable you to execute your idea or technical plan. That was most valuable.
Liz: Our new lab space has everything we need to scale up the development and testing of our sensor technology and we now have some very prestigious neighbours!
Which parts of the programme have you found most valuable to date?
Tanya: Meeting a lot of high-level people which we would not have met otherwise. Karolina (Dr Karolina Zapadka, Accelerate@Babraham’s Business Acceleration Manager) did a really good job bringing in a range of very senior level experts.
Liz: And not just the fact that they are high-level, but the fact that she has hand-picked them specifically for us, tailoring them to our needs. Each winning company has different mentors based on what they are doing and what the mentors have done. It’s a flexible programme, which is why it’s so good.
Tanya: It’s quite unique. Karolina’s approach is: “Who do you want to talk to? Ok, I’ll get them for you”. Other accelerators say: “Here are your mentors”, but here it’s: “Give me your wish list and I’ll see what I can do,” and she knows the right people to talk to.
As a winner of the programme, you were given £20,000. What’s that enabled you to do?
Tanya: It has been very useful. It’s enabled us to employ an intern to work in the lab and some of it will be used to develop our IP strategy.
Do you feel integrated into the wider campus?
Liz: We have been offered lots of opportunities. Most recently, it was presenting a poster of our work at a Campus Coffee Morning to the wider Babraham community and mingling with other teams.
Can you describe this programme in three words?
Liz: Intense, inspirational and ‘the full package’.
Tanya: Tailored, inspirational and complete. By ‘complete’, I mean that normally you’d just get the mentoring, whereas here you get the money and the lab space too, so it’s possible to actually achieve something.
What are you working on while on the programme which will accelerate your development?
Liz: We are going to carry out some key experiments and definitely want to try and build a prototype while we are here so that we have got something to show investors. We are waiting for some key consumables to arrive to enable us to generate some novel IP.
Tanya: We are also thinking more about the value of our data in the digital health space and not just about the development of the device we are going to sell. This additional avenue is a new, potentially exciting direction that has come out of this programme for us.
Have you experienced measurable progress in the development of your business?
Tanya: We have expanded and refined the business plan, which has given us a clearer idea of how we are going to get there - who our target customers are and how much money we need to raise - so we have a clearer picture about the landscape. And we’ve also perfected our pitch, which is another achievement.
Liz: We have come a long way in our business and understanding of biotech in a short space of time. The links we have made here with key people will continue and we know those relationships will help us in the future.
Do you think that the location of the Babraham Research Campus within the Cambridge life science cluster adds value?
Tanya: I think it helps, especially for the people who come from the University, like us. It’s close by, so you don’t need to relocate.
Where would you like to see Kalium Diagnostics in 12 months’ time?
Tanya: We will have raised seed-funding, progressed our technology, achieved some key milestones and be fundraising for further investment to scale-up.
(+44) 1223 496 000
Babraham Bioscience Technologies Ltd
Babraham Research Campus
CB22 3AT, United Kingdom
01223 813 557