Den y Dreigiau – Getting to Know Ceridwen Oncology


A first-of-its-kind hybrid event matching some of the most exciting start-ups and small businesses in north Wales with investors looking for their next big deal,Business News Wales are joining forces with Menai Science Park, GlobalWelsh and others for Den y Dreigiau – a major Angel and Seed-funding Pitching event.

Eight companies developing forward-thinking solutions in a range of vital sectors from health to artificial intelligence to marine biology and much more will be pitching for between £300k-£1.5M to investors and investor groups from across the UK and beyond, including the Development Bank of Wales, the GlobalWelsh investment network, GS Verde Investment Network and more.

Ceridwen Oncology are one of the pitching companies. Read on to find out more about their company and their aspirations for the event from Co-Founder Ramsay McFarlane.

Who are Ceridwen and what does your business do?

We are a team comprising world-leading expertise in medicinal chemistry, genetics and clinician medicine from two Welsh universities (Bangor and Cardiff) and University College London. We are a pre-clinical drug discovery company combining innovative state-of-the-art computational chemistry and cancer biology to identify new, first-in-class anti-cancer therapeutics.

Our main initial focus is on a group of compounds we believe can target common cancers found with high prevalence in Wales and transform the treatment of a rare type of bone cancer that afflicts individuals of all age groups, including the very young.

When was Ceridwen founded and what have been your major milestones so far?

Ceridwen Oncology was founded this year by a group of Welsh academics as part of a UK oncology business accelerator programme sponsored by the UK Government's Innovate UK organisation and Cancer Research UK. Participation in this programme was based on a rigorous selection process and Ceridwen Oncology was one of the final six companies from the whole of the UK to be taken forward.

The programme links us to unique expertise in the drug development world, and partners us with leaders from some of the world's largest drug companies, including Astra Zeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson and Johnson and Roche. This has given us the best possible start to develop Ceridwen Oncology as a unique entity in the global pharmaceutical sector.

As a business owner, why did you decide to establish your business in Wales?

The founding members of Ceridwen Oncology have come from Welsh academic institutions. Whilst we are not of Welsh ancestry, we have lived and worked in Wales for most of our academic careers and are determined to ensure the societal benefits of a commercial venture of this nature remain in Wales, close to the communities our institutions serve.

The scale of funding required for development of anti-cancer drugs that can benefit patients can only come from the commercial sector, but some of the foundation work leading up to this venture was funded by the Welsh Government through the National Research Network Wales and Welsh charities, most notably Cancer Research Wales, so it is important to us to retain a Welsh base and an identity deeply allied to people of Wales.

Where do you see Ceridwen in five years’ time?

Our ultimate driver is to help people suffering from currently incurable cancers. To do this, we need to develop a robust vehicle that can grow in a commercially successful fashion, one that will also appropriately reward ethical investment.

After five years, we aim to have our first therapeutic agents benefiting patients and bringing in sufficient revenue to enable further investment in the development of other new drugs that we have in our early-stage pipelines.

What does being involved in Den y Dreigiau means for your business?

Drug development is an investment-led, high-return sector. We are in the embryogenic stages of our business, and we are seeking out like-minded investors who share our vision to develop a world-leading, technology and ethically focussed venture in Wales that will demonstrate the application of Welsh science and create a stable and fruitful venture for the longer-term

What do you hope to achieve from the event?

To get our leading asset to the clinical trial stage will require a series of staged investments, with the realisation of each goal driving a considerable value increase. We are looking for early-stage investors who will help underpin our Welsh foundations to trigger further inward investment.

We have developed a business model during the accelerator programme that predicts we will reach our first major value increase point with an initial investment of approximately £2.5 million. Whilst we are aware that a single investment partner is a perceived ideal, we see great value in a shared investment structure, at the heart of which lies common aspirations and values.

How would success at Den y Dreigiau help take your business to the next level?

We operate in a sector where we have clear milestones linked to value inflection points. This is a global sector that can attract substantive inward investment to Wales. Obtaining early-stage investment through the Den y Dreigiau will provide the catalytic trigger for further investment that will considerably amplify the potential within Ceridwen Oncology.

Where can we learn more about your business?

Ceridwen Oncology are operating the guidance of a leading specialist pharmaceutical legal company and so we are currently operating under what is referred to as ‘stealth mode' to ensure that we protect our gold standard legal position. However, we have recently been reported as one of eight companies referred to as the ‘ones to watch' in the UK. Any investor wanting more information can contact us via the M-SParc team.