Posted on August 8, 2018 by staff

Lord Drayson: I want to build a world-leading tech company


Serial entrepreneur and former UK science minister Lord Paul Drayson has outlined to BusinessCloud his ambitions to build a UK Plc with a unicorn status.

Lord Drayson is the chief executive of Oxford-based Sensyne Health, a clinical artificial intelligence technology company with a focus on discovering new medicines and improving patient care across the NHS.

The business, which also counts former NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh as a non-executive director, has already partnered with a number of NHS trusts and recently announced plans to float on the London Stock Exchange on 17 August.

In an interview with BusinessCloud, Lord Drayson revealed the company plans to raise £60 million to scale up the business, with the majority of those proceeds being used to hire additional doctors and computer scientists.

He said Sensyne Health has the potential to be “a very significant company”.

“I want it to become one of the world’s leading technology companies, realising the potential of artificial intelligence in healthcare but doing it in an ethical way,” he said.

“The last company that I built reached a market cap of $890 million – this company has the potential to be significantly bigger than that.”

In the post-Brexit world, Lord Drayson stressed that the UK needs companies which have the potential to grow and be significant players in their markets.

“The challenge is to scale the business and in turn treat the most patients and have the biggest possible impact,” he said.

“But at the same time my ambition is to create a UK plc of real significance.”

As well as raising the necessary capital for growth, the IPO will also provide Sensyne Health with “an additional layer of transparency that comes with being a public company”.

“The NHS trusts that have partnered with us now collectively own about 10 per cent of the equity in the company – and by going public they become owners in a public business with the additional safeguards and corporate governance transparencies that come with that,” Lord Drayson said.

“We’re coming to market now to capitalise on the fact that we are in a leading position in this space. We want to develop it and be able to apply it more broadly across the NHS and then internationally, but we also want to this in a way which provides a higher level of transparency.

“We could have stayed private but certainly given that the NHS trusts are public bodies it’s much better that we’re a public company.”

Sensyne Health has recently signed a strategic research agreement with Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH), building on an existing relationship with the trust and the University of Oxford which was signed in July 2017.

The agreement will involve Sensyne and the trust expanding their collaboration to include the analysis of patients’ anonymous genetic data using the company’s clinical AI tech. It is hoped that this will accelerate medical research and improve patient care.

As part of the deal, OUH will receive an additional £5 million equity stake in Sensyne, and will also benefit from royalties that arise from any discoveries.