2021-03-25 00:00:00

CAMBRIDGE and LONDON, UK, 25 March 2021 - Cancer Research UK and Capital Enterprise, together with Roche UK, have launched the Cancer Tech Accelerator programme. This new initiative will help researchers translate their ideas and lifesaving discoveries into innovations that will improve the lives of cancer patients.  

Focusing on the stage before company formation, this exciting programme will provide academic researchers with entrepreneurial, business and technical skills required to develop their tech-led innovations into a start-up venture.  

Applications are open now for researchers who are working up ideas centred on early-stage technologies relying on data, AI or MedTech to advance the early detection, diagnosis, monitoring or treatment of cancer.   

Advancements in medical research has brought about a string of breakthroughs for people with cancer. However, there is a roadblock in taking the discoveries from the lab into clinical practice as there is a lack of infrastructure, support and training for researchers to develop their ideas.  

As part of Cancer Research UK’s Entrepreneurial Programmes Initiative, which promotes a culture of entrepreneurship amongst academics, the Cancer Tech Accelerator will enable researchers to develop and test the commercial potential of their innovations. The programme will enable researchers to team up with oncology and domain experts drawn from Roche UK, Capital Enterprise and Cancer Research UK, alongside mentors from across the health-tech ecosystem. Ultimately this will enable researchers to commercialise their ideas into real-word impact.   

At a three-day virtual boot camp run by Capital Enterprise and starting in June, researchers will learn the basics of how to create, fund and run a successful health-tech venture. Over the following three months, researchers will attend weekly training workshops and sessions to build on this knowledge, while benefiting from Capital Enterprise’s experience in supporting entrepreneurs. This is all aimed at discovering how best to commercially develop a viable medical product. 

The five strongest teams will each be awarded £50,000 of non-dilutive grant funding, including a salary stipend, to enable them to spend six months experimentally validating and further de-risking their concept. Intensive mentoring and business support, coupled with additional support from Roche UK in the form of equipment and/or reagents required for the development of technologies, will also help empower researchers to reach commercial success.  

Cancer Research UK will then help successful teams to form investor-ready start-ups suitable for onward commercialisation.  

Applications are open now until 31 May 2021, for researchers, including PhDs and Post Docs, who are currently working on a specific concept, technology or business idea aiming to address a clear unmet need for cancer patients. Visit here to find out more.  

Tony Hickson, Cancer Research UK’s Chief Business Officer, said: “Buried in the UK research base is a wealth of bright minds and innovative ideas that have the potential to help cancer patients. The Cancer Tech Accelerator aims to foster entrepreneurship and support these researchers to rapidly translate cutting-edge technology to reach these patients.  

“Accelerators and innovation ecosystems were highlighted in our recently published Early Detection and Diagnosis of Cancer Roadmap as a key mechanism for translating promising ideas and innovations into real-world benefits for patients in the clinic.” 

Nathan McNally, Programme Director at Capital Enterprise, said: “The UK is a global powerhouse of science and research. With so many universities at the cutting edge of global discoveries and emerging technology, the partnership, and the creation of the Cancer Tech Accelerator, aims to unlock the potential to accelerate innovation to improve cancer patient detection, diagnosis and treatment.” 

Jessica O'Neill, Affiliate Partnerships Lead, Roche UK, added: “We know that the biggest breakthroughs in science often happen when different organisations come together to remove the barriers that stifle progress.  This partnership is a perfect example of that, one that has the potential to achieve the vision that Roche, Cancer Research UK and Capital Enterprise have: to better understand serious diseases and accelerate the development of effective diagnostics and treatments tailored to the individual needs of cancer patients. Some of the most cutting-edge science in the world is happening in the UK, and this investment builds on our commitment to driving scientific advances in this region and globally.”   


For media enquiries please contact Ellie Bennett in the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 5370 or, out of hours, on 07050 264 059. 

Notes to editors

About Cancer Research UK

  • Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.

  • Cancer Research UK’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.

  • Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival in the UK double in the last 40 years.

  • Today, 2 in 4 people survive their cancer for at least 10 years. Cancer Research UK’s ambition is to accelerate progress so that by 2034, 3 in 4 people will survive their cancer for at least 10 years. 

  • Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.

  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.

For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1022 or visit Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.



About Capital Enterprise

Capital Enterprise unites a powerful membership network of the UK’s leading universities and colleges, accelerators, co-working spaces, enterprise agencies, innovation institutes and public sector organisations. As a catalyst, we enable entrepreneurship by supporting organisations to initiate, develop, promote and deliver services to directly support the growth of start-up companies like the Cancer Tech Accelerator. For further information about Capital Enterprise please visit



About Roche

Roche is a pioneer in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, focused on advancing science to improve people’s lives. We have created truly differentiated medicines in oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology and diseases of the central nervous system. In the UK we employ over 2,000 people who work hard every day to bring our medicines and diagnostics to people who urgently need them. We work from bench to bedside - researching new medicines and diagnostics, running global clinical trials, and collaborating with the NHS to try to ensure rapid uptake and delivery of our products and services. For more information:

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