University of Cambridge-allied accelerator Start Codon has appointed Daniel Rooke and Sakura Holloway to its team, as it prepares to select the first five projects for its initial cohort.

Daniel Rooke (pictured) and Sakura Holloway on Wednesday joined Start Codon, the Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC)-backed life sciences accelerator, as partners and as head of operations and diligence respectively.

CIC, the patient capital fund allied to University of Cambridge, established Start Codon in April 2019, alongside partners including Genentech, the biotech arm of pharmaceutical firm Roche.

The accelerator has begun seeking applicants for its first intake of five startups. It will provide participants with £250,000 ($325,000) of seed capital along with access to resources, including dedicated mentors and lab space at the Milner Therapeutics Institute.

Rooke’s duties will include negotiating Codon’s investments, follow-on funding and exits, in addition to managing its intellectual property. He joins Start Codon following almost two-and-a-half years as general counsel at drug developer Cycle Pharmaceuticals but remains a member of the consulting editorial board for life sciences at legal research publishing group LexisNexis UK.

Sakura meanwhile is anticipated to help process Codon’s deal flow, identifying potential companies for investment and due diligence while also acting as a mentor for the accelerator.

Sakura has technical biological sciences expertise in domains including immunology and molecular biology. She joins Start Codon from pharmaceutical firm Merck Group, where she led the corporate’s business development unit for the European life sciences, playing a role in identifying in-licensing and acquisition opportunities.

Jason Mellad, chief executive of Start Codon, said: “The appointments of Daniel and Sakura form part of our ambitious plans and mission to provide a new model of life science and healthcare business accelerator, with a world-class team to create maximum value for us, our investors and our investee companies.”

Start Codon’s other founders include Babraham Bioscience Technologies, manager of the bioscience-focused Babraham Research Campus, as well as Jonathan Milner, a member of CIC’s advisory panel and founder of research antibody provider Abcam, and Ian Tomlinson, chairman of commercialisation fund Apollo Therapeutics.

– Image of Daniel Rooke courtesy of LinkedIn