Ahead of our annual Demo Day in November, we look at some of the success stories of our past-cohort ventures and how our Elevate accelerator has played a pivotal role in their growth. This snippet focuses on Oxford Cancer Analytics (OXcan), which was one of our portfolio ventures in cohort 3 in 2020.
Co-founded by Peter Jianrui Liu, Jesus College, and Andreas Halner, St John's College, OXcan is an award-winning company supported by the Oxford Foundry, Cancer Research UK and the Francis Crick Institute, applying machine learning and blood tests for early cancer detection.
Tell us about how OxCAN has progressed and developed since being part of OXFO Elevate cohort 3.
OXcan recently closed an oversubscribed seed round with £1.28 million in funding from international investors, including the Francis Crick Institute, Civilization Ventures, Oxford Technology Management, and high-profile angel investors.
We've also recently appointed Brad Wilson, former President Europe of GSK, as Chairman of the Board, as well as Marcus East, Chief Digital Officer at T-Mobile USA and former Technical Director at Google, who is amongst our Board of Directors. Marcus is the perfect fit as a mentor for OXcan and has been tremendously helpful.
Overall, we've built a world-class team of 11 who have extensive expertise spanning clinical medicine, cancer research, multi-omics, machine learning, and business. We have also established formal collaborations with hospitals across three continents, including in the UK, Canada, China, and India.
What are the key learnings, skills, or experiences you gained at Elevate that helped OxCAN?
The accelerator has been a transformative journey at a personal level. I grew from someone with a limited understanding of the start-up world to building a basic foundation in entrepreneurship. Some programmes have used the phrase "MBA programme for entrepreneurs". I believe Elevate can truly be considered an MBA programme for entrepreneurs, alongside adding industry practitioners, exited entrepreneurs, and specialists to support you in that journey.
Elevate, coupled with weekly workshops, enabled us to refine OXcan's business strategy and formalise key objectives leading up to its seed round.
What was your favourite experience or memory of OXFO Elevate?
I think a large part of what makes the Oxford Foundry an incubator for innovation is its people. Staff, colleagues, and peers in a supportive environment made coming into the Oxford Foundry fun and exciting, and the versatile and modern physical space further fostered interdisciplinary collaboration and learning.
We met many colleagues along the way and have since forged lifelong friendships that we continue to cherish!
Where do you see OXcan in five years’ time?
In five years' time, OXcan aims to revolutionise cancer management by enabling curative treatments through early detection and machine learning. We hope to offer affordable early cancer detection tests to broad populations to save lives, starting with lung cancer.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start their own ventures?
Be ambitious, be bold, and find the biggest problems that you believe the world is facing today. Build a team that tackles this problem head-on and never settle for anything less than the best solution possible.
Follow Oxford Cancer Analytics on LinkedIn for all the latest news.