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St John's Innovation Centre

St John's Innovation Centre

20/04/16  SJIC announces Alviol and Directed Systems as finalists for Venturefest East Fast&Furious Pitch-Off

St John’s Innovation Centre has announced Alviol and Directed Systems as the shortlisted finalists for the Venturefest East Fast and Furious Pitch-Off competition that will take place on 24th May 2016 at Newmarket Racecourse.

The competition aims to discover and promote the most promising, innovative early stage technology companies in the east region. The organisers and creators of the event, St John’s Innovation Centre, GCGP LEP and New Anglia LEP have pulled together experienced and professional panel of judges including Venture Capitalists from London and Business Angels from the East of England. The Fast and Furious Pitch-Off is a unique opportunity for innovative companies to benchmark themselves against others in other sectors, and to raise their profiles amongst the national and international investment community and multinational companies.

SJIC shortlisted Alviol, an early stage MedTech business developing Occoris - an elegant and simple way of delivering drugs more efficiently to the lungs and Directed Systems, a developer of closed-loop control systems to care for critically-ill patients, as the competition finalists. ‘Alviol is very pleased to have been shortlisted to pitch at the Venturefest East event. Pulmonary drug delivery is a large ($24Bn) and fast growing market (4.5% CAGR) which hasn’t seen disruptive innovation for several decades. However, blockbuster patent expiration and emergence of new biologic drugs have created ideal conditions for breakthrough innovation and we believe that Occoris is just that,’ commented Ben Wicks, CEO of Alviol. ‘Occoris increases the efficiency of inhaled drug delivery from ~25% to 75% and since it is breath-activated, every patient will get the correct dose irrespective of technique or lung capacity. We expect it will set a new standard for respiratory drug delivery over the coming decade.’

‘We are delighted to have an opportunity to present our latest development, a closed-loop control system (CLIP) that enables autonomous clinical care of critically ill and injured patients,’ said Mark Leaning, Founder & CEO of Directed Systems. Ben Wicks, CEO of Alviol and Mark Leaning, Founder & CEO of Directed Systems will pitch their innovative products against other finalists selected by East of England tech clusters and will face a panel of region’s top industry experts and investors headed by David Gill, Managing Director of St John’s Innovation Centre. Both companies will also be exhibiting their products during the Innovation Showcase at the Venturefest East event.

‘We are very impressed by the market potential of both companies,’ commented David Gill, MD at SJIC. ‘I look forward to the pitching final at Venturefest East, judging by the quality of entries so far, it will be a fascinating start-up battle featuring the best early stage technology companies in the region.’

The other companies that have been awarded exhibition space at the VFE’s Innovation Showcase are:

• Crowdsurfer – a fintech company building the world’s richest data analytics service for the multi-billion dollar crowd finance industry.

• Argon Design – a developer of Argon360 is a hardware based system for real-time stitching of video output from multiple cameras, a crucial element in the creation of 360-degree immersive VR content.

• Cambrionix – a supplier of finished products and electronic components for use in hospitals, schools, homes and businesses that need to manage and control updates, synchronise data and charge USB connected devices reliably and quickly. Cambrionix will provide onsite mobile phone and tablet charging for all visitors and exhibitors during the Venturefest East event. In addition to this we would also like run a competition – Bring ANY USB chargeable device to our stand and if it won’t charge it, you win a Series8 intelligent charger.

• FABPulous - a developer of technology that makes a 5minute whole blood test possible to be performed in healthcare settings.

The overall winner in the Fast and Furious Pitch Off on the day will receive 1000 Guineas (just over £1,000), while the two runners up will each receive prizes of 500 Guineas. Three relevant winners of the Fast and Furious Pitch-off competition will also receive automatic entry into ENGIE’s Big Pitch to be held in London, in June. This will provide the victors with exposure to the ENGIE Board which has access to a €100 million investment fund.

‘We are very excited to run a pitching competition during the main event,’ said Dr Soraya Jones, Board Member at KTN and Venturefest East. ‘The ambition behind Venturefest East, designed as a flagship event showcasing innovation and future trends in the region, was to create a powerful mash-up of early stage and established companies and get them in front of top investors, innovators and entrepreneurs.

We are also very grateful for the support from all stakeholders and clusters in the region that helped bring Venturefest to East Anglia.’ Venturefest East is jointly delivered by Innovate UK, The Knowledge Transfer Network, St John’s Innovation Centre, Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (GCGP), New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, sponsored by University of East Anglia, Engie, BT, Magna International, Taylor Vinters, Barclays, SBRI Healthcare and Adnams, and supported by CW (Cambridge Wireless), Cambridge Network, One Nucleus, Cambridge Cleantech, Agri-Tech East, Games Eden and Alliantus Ltd.

To find out more about securing exhibition space, please contact
To find out more about Venturefest East and to REGISTER for the event, please visit

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Organisation:  St John's Innovation Centre