Cambridge companies win Queen’s Award for Enterprise


Cambridge Enterprise portfolio companies Horizon Discovery and BlueGnome were both winners in the International Trade category of the 2012 Queen’s Award for Enterprise, the UK’s most prestigious business award.

The awards, made annually by HM The Queen, are given for the highest levels of excellence demonstrated in each category. A total of 209 awards were announced: 151 companies were named for international trade, 50 for innovation and eight for sustainable development.

Horizon, which specialises in personalised medicine, received the award in recognition of its 360 per cent growth in exports over the past three years. The company, which was founded in 2007 with funding from Cambridge Enterprise, is one of the fastest-growing biotechnology companies in Europe. More than 90% of Horizon’s sales are currently made into markets outside of the UK, including the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Singapore. Of the European market, Germany, Switzerland and Austria are Horizon’s primary sources of trade.

Horizon’s genome editing technology, GENESIS, has been used to create over 400 X-MAN cell lines, the world’s first source of genetically-defined and patient-relevant human cell lines, accurately modeling the disease-causing mutations found in cancer patients. These ‘patients-in-a-test-tube’ are being used to identify the effect of individual genetic mutations on drug activity, patient responsiveness, and resistance, leading to the successful prediction of which patient sub-groups will respond to currently-available and future drug treatments. This enables the design of shorter, more focused, and less expensive clinical trials, ultimately providing the tools to identify the right drugs for the right patients based upon the unique genetic mutations that define their disease.

“Horizon has worked hard to assemble a team of first class executives, capable of addressing the wide array of commercial opportunities available to the business. Our ability to leverage our technology, product and service base to deliver a combination of large multi-national contracts, strategic alliances, IP assets, spinouts, and direct sales, as well as our successful Centres of Excellence programme, has contributed to our rapid growth over the past years, of which I am very proud,” commented Dr Darrin M Disley, CEO, Horizon. “Over the coming years we expect further growth in the company’s international customer base which will drive another year of 100% growth in 2012 and greater than 50% for many years to come.”

BlueGnome, which was established in 2001 with Cambridge Enterprise funding, designs, manufactures and supplies microarray-based products for the investigation of genetic disorders. The company’s products are supplied to hospitals, specialist genetic centres and IVF clinics in over 35 countries where they are used to investigate the genetic causes of infertility, developmental delay, certain specific cancers and an associated list of known genetic syndromes.

BlueGnome’s 24sure technology is used to screen for chromosomal abnormality in embryos, which is a major cause of miscarriage and IVF failure. A recent study conducted by CARE Fertility in Manchester and Nottingham showed that 24sure tripled the rate of embryo implantation in IVF.

The Cambridge-based company, which also received the award in the international trade category, has seen a 167 per cent growth in exports over the past three years. International sales represent over 80 per cent of BlueGnome’s sales; its key markets include the US, Singapore and Europe.

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