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An illustration of a brainstorm cloud with the Bioarchitech logo in the centre. Three phrases are connected to the cloud by arrows -  oncolytic viruses, protein immunotherapy, and improved outcomes for cancer patients representing Bioarchitech's innovative ideas. Next to each phrase is a lightbulb.

As Bioarchitech readies itself to graduate from the BioEscalator, co-founder and Research Director Kevin Maskell recently talked to us about the company’s origins and plans. We also discussed the value of being part of the University of Oxford Old Road biomedical research campus, and the advantages that BioEscalator tenancy brings.

 Talking about viruses, immunotherapy and how to improve outcomes for cancer patients, Bioarchitech’s founders came up the company’s underlying idea. The group of friends and former colleagues from organisations such as the University of Oxford validated this concept with funding from Innovate UK, via a competitive Biomedical Catalyst grant. Particularly pivotal in those early days was experienced company life sciences founder (and Managing Director of Bioarchitech) Professor Geoff Hale. He was a valuable source of investor and other contacts with his deep experience of the Oxford ecosystem (he established the Therapeutic Antibodies Centre in the 1990s, now part of the Jenner Institute as the Clinical BioManufacturing Facility). Having taken over 20 antibodies into clinical trials and built several successful companies Geoff has invaluable operational experience too.


Moving to the BioEscalator

By 2019, Bioarchitech was collaborating with the University of Oxford and CRUK and took a bench in the BioEscalator’s Innovation Lab (which offers flexible space for start-ups). Even though it was still budgeting very tightly, by 2021 Bioarchitech needed to raise more money and did so mid-pandemic primarily via a virtual investor event. Backed by Oxford Technology (S)EIS funds and high net worth individuals, the fundraising set up the company for its next phase of growth.


Now ready to graduate from the BioEscalator to larger premises elsewhere in the Oxford ecosystem, Bioarchitech is at an exciting stage of development. It is ready to select its lead candidate by the end of the year, and expecting to launch a significant Series A fundraising round in the summer to take this candidate into the clinic in solid tumours. This will involve new hires and access to regulatory expertise.


The BioEscalator effect

It is clear that the company has made significant progress since moving to the BioEscalator in 2019. This includes two new collaborations with biotech companies in Europe and the US, and a £2000 prize in a BioEscalator ‘Best Pitch’ competition in which it outlined a new RNA therapy concept. True to form though the company has kept small and focused, numbering four full-time employees at the moment alongside a significant amount of outsourcing.


How else has location at the BioEscalator helped activate the company’s potential? Access to clinical and research expertise, an environment which enables a cost-effective business model and access to networks of investors and advisers have all been pivotal. Kevin cites the open and collaborative interactions with other tenants and the BioEscalator team as another reason why it is a unique place to be located.


Bioarchitech - Benefits of being a BioEscalator tenant

  • Clinical links with University of Oxford mean access to ‘crack teams’ of expertise – when the company wanted to explore a new therapeutic modality it took no time to consult with an expert team of oncologists and other surgeons.
  • There is flexible lab space which can scaled up and down as needed, the Demo Days bring access to new service providers and the BioEscalator’s equipment and research services all add value.
  • Also beneficial is the access to equipment and expertise at the University of Oxford, the kind of input usually out of the reach of small companies – for example, Bioarchitech received really valuable help with an in vivo project licence so it could carry out its own complex experiments in this area rather than using a third party.  


We look forward to watching Bioarchitech continue to progress!