Innovation Showcase: HairClone

Innovation Showcase: HairClone

Hair is a lucrative business; aside from spending billions taking care of it, we also spend huge sums trying to maintain it when it starts thinning. HairClone is a start-up which is aiming to do exactly what it says on the tin – clone our hair, so we can rejuvenate it when we need to. CEO Paul Kemp explains more.

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Describe your business in 100 words...

HairClone is a brand new start-up bringing together an innovative, world-wide partnership of scientists, biotechnologists, clinicians and patients to develop a cell based treatment, aimed at rejuvenating and regenerating thinning hair in patients suffering from androgenic alopecia.  The founders have a unique combination of experience in hair transplantation, and bringing cell therapies to the market.

What prompted you to enter the Innovation Showcase competition? Describe the innovation that you’ve entered the showcase with.        

Manchester has an amazing history of innovating in many different areas, past and present, and we are excited and proud to showcase HairClone to such an audience. Our business plan, as well as working to produce a treatment that would rejuvenate and regenerate thinning hair, combines scientific and medical innovation in a unique way.  This will both increase the likelihood of producing an effective therapy as well as creating multiple early revenue opportunities.

How would you describe that to a novice?

More than half of all men will suffer from androgenic alopecia, otherwise known as male pattern baldness. What is not appreciated is that a huge percentage of women will also find their hair thinning as they age.

The process of hair growth is controlled by a small bundle of cells at the base of the hair.  As we age, the number of these control cells decreases and the thickness of the hair shaft reduces, eventually becoming so fine that it isn't visible.

At HairClone we will take about 50 hairs before this process occurs, store them until needed then “dissasemble" the hairs to isolate and then multiply these control cells around a thousand fold and then return them to the patient.  The early clinical data would suggest that in doing this we could rejuvenate hairs and return them to their original thickness

What are the biggest challenges you face?

Our most immediate challenge is raising the seed funding in order to begin the research. Marketing the partnership to patients and clinicians in order to explain what we are intending to do and to educate both groups into the needs, challenges and timelines involved will be challenging and something that has not been done previously.

Once we are operational we will work in parallel on several projects, all of which will have their own challenges but the management of HairClone have over 100 years of experience doing similar projects, so none of these challenges are daunting to us.

What are your biggest professional achievements to date?

Coming up with the business plan for HairClone. All the founders have been involved in developing novel medical products and we all feel that this is a revolutionary new approach which should reduce the timelines and commercial risks.

How do you feel about presenting to potentially hundreds of people at Venturefest Manchester?

I am really excited about the opportunity but one of my biggest personal challenges will be to adequately communicate what we are trying to do in 3 minutes!

What would winning the Innovation Showcase mean to your business?

Winning the Showcase would mean a lot to us.  The business plan involves public and the relevant medical community “buying in” to the concept that together we could develop a new medical product.  Validation of this even by getting to the finals of the Showcase is a very important part of this.

Where do you see your company in five years time?

In 5 years time we will have both clinician and patient networks working together, the bank will have samples from thousands of patients, we will have treated people in the UK and be beginning randomised clinical trials needed to expand into the rest of the world. People would see that cell based treatments to make hair loss a thing of the past were right on the horizon.

What advice would you give to aspiring innovators?

Talk to as many people as you can.  You will find people with vast amounts of experience and connections are very willing to give their time and advice and think big and act fast.