JustMilk wins Pitch@Palace competition

  • February 27, 2016
JustMilk wins Pitch@Palace competition

Rebekah Scheuerle and her partner win at the competition for biotech start-ups.

We received invaluable mentors, and pharmaceutical contacts, and are thrilled to have the opportunity to pitch again, this time at St. James’s Palace.

Rebekah Scheuerle

A Gates Cambridge Scholar and her partner have won a highly selective biotechnology competition where they pitched plans to commercialise their novel device for administering life-saving drugs to infants during breastfeeding.

Rebekah Scheuerle [2013] and WD Armstrong Scholar Theresa Maier recently co-founded the non-profit JustMilk Limited to commercialise the device. At the start of March they won the Pitch@Palace Bootcamp, a competition put on by His Royal Highness the Duke of York and held for the first time in Cambridge. They then joined 13 start-ups at St. James’s Palace on 7 March for Pitch@Palace 5.0. There they pitched successfully for support, funding and partnership to an audience including venture capitalists, grant funding directors and pharmaceutical company executives and won first place overall.

The purpose of the event was to accelerate the development of start-ups through providing networking opportunities with investors, potential business partners and mentors.

"It was such a privilege to be hosted in St James' Palace by His Royal Highness the Duke of York and his team to speak about our venture. It gave us the opportunity to give a voice to the millions of infants at risk of death from preventable disease, if only they had hygienic paediatric medicines available. Speaking to such an influential audience was incredibly inspiring and an unparalleled opportunity to direct attention to the magnitude of need for innovation for paediatric medicines and their delivery systems. The audience was overwhelmingly supportive and empathetic to our cause. We are so grateful for the vast expansion of our network that has been enabled, and the ways so many people have offered help, through contacts in the pharmaceutical industry, venture capital firms, grant funding agencies and ministries of health. We look forward to the ways in which our new contacts can facilitate the implementation of the project," said Rebekah, who is doing a PhD in Chemical Engineering. 

JustMilk are now meeting with interested pharmaceutical companies, as well as investigating potential investment and grant funding opportunities that are being suggested.  They are looking to work with a pharmaceutical partner to develop the medicines that go in the device and assist with applying for regulatory approval and clinical development. The company is receiving a host of networking opportunities from the Duke of York's office to propel its development. It has also received ongoing feedback from mentors throughout the entire process.

The JustMilk project aims to prevent child mortality using a novel device worn during breastfeeding that administers compounds like antiretrovirals or nutrients into milk consumed by an infant. The device could be useful in low-resource settings because it does not require potable water for washing the device nor suspending the medicine. It doesn’t need refrigerated storage nor literacy for dose measuring. Furthermore, since it is worn during breastfeeding, JustMilk hopes to promote this nutritionally beneficial practice.  The JustMilk non-profit has focused on developing the device for these settings, having received positive feedback from mothers in rural regions of South Africa and Kenya.

The project is expanding to include applications in western markets, motivating Rebekah and Theresa to form the UK-based company, JustMilk Limited.  Thanks to the University of Cambridge Judge Business School’s Accelerate Cambridge programme, they have received extensive mentorship and support for launching the business. They are now seeking financial support to enable the first clinical investigation of the device and a pharmaceutical partner to license the technology.

Rebekah Scheuerle

Rebekah Scheuerle

  • Alumni
  • United States
  • 2013 PhD Chemical Engineering
  • St John's College

I am so honored to be pursuing my PhD in chemical engineering at Cambridge! I will be studying biopharmaceutical development and drug delivery in the lab of Dr. Nigel Slater. Although therapeutic development is necessary globally, the world is in desperate need of affordable, optimized therapies and diagnostics for resource-limited environments. Millions of people do not have access to the electricity and refrigeration required for many current medical treatments. I hope to use my experience in polymeric drug delivery from The University of Texas, microfluidic diagnostics from U.C. Berkeley, vaccine commercialization from Merck Sharp and Dohme, and antibody purification development from Genentech to support me in my graduate studies. I plan on using the skills I acquire at Cambridge in a future career developing biotechnology-based solutions to world health problems.

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