Investment from Cambridge Innovation Capital has been pivotal in the success of Inivata, a University of Cambridge spin-out which has commercialised a new cancer diagnostic based on cutting-edge genomics and molecular approaches.

Cambridge has a long and illustrious history of taking bright ideas and turning them into thriving businesses: the ‘Cambridge cluster’ is one of the most successful university innovation ecosystems in the world. Innovation, by definition, comes in many forms as does the University’s support for its entrepreneurial staff and students, whether it’s through investment and IP protection, flexible office space for start-ups, developing capabilities through mentoring and accelerator programmes or by connecting like-minded people through networks and societies.

The approach seems to be working. In 2018, nearly 2,000 researchers were supported by Cambridge Enterprise, the University’s technology and knowledge transfer office. Since 1995, University of Cambridge spin-outs have raised an impressive £1.7 billion in follow-on funding.

Securing funding at the right time is critical for fledgling businesses. Playing an important part in this ecosystem, therefore, is Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC). A University initiative, CIC is a venture capital investor focused on IP-rich technology and life science businesses which has raised £275 million of capital from a range of investors around the world. It is a preferred investor for the University and together with Cambridge University Endowment Fund, the University is its largest shareholder.

To date, CIC has invested more than £125 million in 25 pioneering companies in the Cambridge ecosystem, each of which has world-leading potential. When the multiplying impact of the co-investors who work alongside CIC is considered, over £500 million has been invested into dynamic young companies in the local economy.

Inivata: a breakthrough in the treatment of cancer

A spin-out from the University’s Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, Inivata has developed a simple but revolutionary blood test – or liquid biopsy – which uses genomics to help doctors detect cancer, stratify patients and monitor individual responses to treatments. Its first product, InVisionFirst™-Lung is now commercially available for treating patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

CIC made an initial investment back in 2014 and has since participated in two further rounds as the company grew and raised a total of over £75 million. Inivata recently completed a £40 million series B funding round, which includes further investment from CIC. It will use these proceeds to build a commercial team and accelerate the development of products that characterise other types of cancer.

Inivata retains strong links with the University, not least through founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Nitzan Rosenfeld, who is a world-leader in circulating tumour DNA biology and runs the Rosenfeld Lab at Cancer Research UK’s Cambridge Institute, combining new molecular and genomics approaches to develop new diagnostics.

Dr Clive Morris, Inivata’s Chief Executive Officer said: “CIC has been involved with Inivata since the company’s earliest days and have been pivotal in their continued support as Inivata has grown from laboratory bench start up to commercial organisation.”