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Oxford startup wins global prize for female entrepreneurship

Oxford’s Intelligent Lab on Fiber, known as the iLoF, has received $1 million through Microsoft’s Female Founders Program after winning a global competition for female-led businesses.

iLoF, an Oxford-based firm, was co-founded by Mehak Mumtaz, Joana Paiva, and Paula Sampaio. iLoF uses artificial intelligence to speed up the development of drugs to treat Alzheimer’s.

It has created a “cloud-based library of disease biomarkers”, which drastically reduces the cost and time of drug discovery.  While iLoF is currently working specifically on Alzheimer’s, the aim of the startup is to “bring the power of this technology to other diseases.”

In response to their win, iLoF said: “We are delighted and honoured to be selected as a winner from such truly outstanding and inspiring women-led deep tech companies from all over the globe.

“We are excited to welcome M12 and Mayfield to the next phase of our journey to enable a new era of personalised treatments for patients. This investment will be used to accelerate our collaboration with industry partners for developing precise treatments for Alzheimer’s disease as well as expanding the platform to additional disease areas including Oncology.”

The Female Founders Program is run by Microsoft, and the prize money comes from its M12, Mayfield and Pivotal Ventures. The aim of the program is to accelerate funding for female entrepreneurs. Each year, four women-led companies receive a total of $6 million in funding, along with access to technology, resources, mentoring and other benefits.

This year, the other three winners were Huue, a firm specialising in “biotechnology to create the world’s most sustainable dyes.” Deployed, which uses AI to spot weaknesses in contract law; and Webee, which uses AI to increase the “efficiency of industrial operations”.

Image provided by iLoF.

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