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Inspirational Female Founder Spotlight: Dr Camilla Easter

Dr Camilla Easter has ten years’ biotech start-up experience as CEO and COO working exclusively in the early stage Biotech start-up ecosystem. Originally a veterinary surgeon, she has run veterinary clinical trials and launched the veterinary arm of a biotech company. Following this she moved into the human biotech sector where she has been involved in all aspects of start-ups including, R&D, fundraising, regulatory, manufacturing scale-up, pre-clinical and clinical trials.

Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?

I left clinical veterinary practice a decade ago to join a medtech company as its fourth member, focusing on wound reconstruction technology. Initially, my role centered on overseeing veterinary clinical trials and human pre-clinical trials. While I had no prior experience with startups or the biotech industry, I quickly realized the excitement and potential within this space. Thriving in the fast-paced startup communities, my responsibilities expanded to become the COO, heavily involved in fundraising efforts. After five years, I began exploring new opportunities to lead projects from inception through development to commercialization, recognizing the potential for entrepreneurial growth.

How did the idea come to you for the company?

I was relatively late to the party! During my maternity leave, I came across what would later become OMP’s groundbreaking technology. Dr. Xue Min, our CSO, had been diligently developing the foundation of our co-polymer, engineered to remain in the stomach for an extended duration before safely breaking down and passing. Thanks to my connection with the chairman and early investor, Nick Edwards, I was tasked with evaluating the technology. To cut a long story short, I wrote a preclinical feasibility trial to assess its potential. Having written what was a very harsh trial, I was blown away by both the team and the technology. Obesity stands as one of the most significant global health crises, and our technology represents a highly differentiated product which will help millions in not only losing excess weight but also to maintain that weight.

How did you achieve awareness?

Initially we pitched to angels through various networks and events. Our strategy also involved publishing studies and leveraging social media channels to announce results and milestones. Additionally, we attend both investor-centric and scientific-specific conferences to raise visibility for both the company and it’s technology.

How have you been able to gain funding and grow?

Yes! To date, we have raised $11 million. The majority of this funding has been in equity financing, supplemented by approximately $2m secured from innovate UK grants. In 2020, when there were just two of us and the technology was in its preclinical phase, we’ve since expanded the team of 15 employees. Currently, our lead asset is undergoing phase 2a clinical trials targeting obesity.

What are the key successes?

  • Moving to our new 4000 sq ft HQ
  • Completing our phase 1 clinical trial
  • Rapidly opening the enrollment for our phase 2a trials 
  • Launching our drug delivery R&D program based of positive phase 1 trial data
  • Growing our team with amazing, innovative and diverse people. 

What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?

We’ve made significant strides over the past four years with a fantastic product now in the clinical phase. However, running clinical trials in the UK has been an enlightening experience for me. The system is under considerable strain, and when you factor in a clinical trial, capacity feels stretched to its limits. Balancing the need for rapid progress to advance the company while awaiting crucial data for funding rounds is an ongoing challenge.

Additionally, we face the challenge of altering the public’s perception of obesity. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, many still view obesity as a lifestyle choice. It’s imperative that we work towards dispelling this misconception and reducing the stigma associated with obesity. By fostering a supportive environment, we can encourage individuals to seek help and access safe treatments to achieve weight loss and improve their overall health.

What are your plans now/for the future?

In 2024, our focus will be on raising our Series A funding, concluding our phase 2a clinical trials in obesity, and advancing the development of our drug delivery system. Looking ahead to 2025, we plan to initiate our pivotal obesity clinical trials, with the majority of sites located in the US, paving the way for a commercial launch in 2027.

What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?

There is so much to be gained from carving out your own dream. Be open to all opportunities. You will grow and learn at a pace that is hard to get in any other environment. Be ambitious and brave. 

Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?

Be very organized! Anything that can be dealt with that day should be dealt with that day. I have two young children and so I ensure I am very efficient during the day. As the company grows make sure you are able to delegate otherwise you will be the one stifling progression. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know how to do things, surround yourself with brilliant people both employees and mentors. Allow failures to drive better decisions, don’t sweep them under the carpet, learn from them. 

Who are the 3 people who inspire you the most and why? 

  • My father, who gave me the confidence to leave clinical practice and try something new. He had founded his own company, but it wasn’t until I ventured into biotech that I discovered the turbulence he faced during the initial years of his venture. As a young child at the time, I was completely unaware of the challenges he had overcome.

  • Check Warner – Her dedication to her mission is truly inspiring.

  • David Jackson’s relatable and down-to-earth nature made him an invaluable mentor who recognized my potential early on. He encouraged my extensive involvement in my first biotech venture, providing guidance and support along the way. Even today, he remains a trusted sounding board, offering valuable insights and advice.

What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?

You’re not a tree you can move

What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?