The Fund will be used to support academics whose research has commercial potential, with funding for early stage proof of concept, licensing projects and new spinout companies.
This is the first investment fund that UCL has launched to commercialise its multidisciplinary research and it will support innovations from academics in all areas of the university, including life sciences, engineering and information communication technology.
The Fund will provide both financing and support to take projects through the whole development journey from proof of concept to commercialisation. It will build on the success of UCL’s technology transfer company UCL Business (UCLB) in commercialising research from the university, by increasing the number of projects that can be supported and improving the financial return to the university. UCL is ranked number one for its research strength in the UK’s recent Research Excellence Framework and has a long track record of developing thriving businesses through UCLB.
UCLB has launched over 60 spin-out companies to commercialise intellectual property developed by UCL researchers. Recent UCLB spinouts include Freeline, which is developing gene therapies for blood disorders and Autolus, which is developing cancer immunotherapy treatment.
Another spin-out, Senceive, provides wireless monitoring solutions to the construction and railway industries while Mediagamma is an innovative advertising technology company.
UCL has secured funding from the European Investment Fund (EIF), one of the largest providers of venture investment in Europe, and from Imperial Innovations (‘Innovations’), a leading UK public technology commercialisation company.
EIF and Imperial Innovations have each committed £24.75 million to the Fund, which will have an initial investment period of five years. EIF’s contribution to the UCL Technology Fund is supported by the Investment Plan for Europe.
The Fund will be managed by Albion Ventures, one of the UK’s largest independent venture capital investors. Albion is also contributing to the Fund. Albion will draw on the experience of UCLB to ensure the Fund meets financial targets as well as objectives set by UCL for broader society and economic impact.
Dr Celia Caulcott, Vice-Provost (Enterprise) at UCL, said: “UCL has an impressive track record of commercialising our research through licensing and spin-outs and the launch of the UCL Technology Fund underlines our long-term approach towards investment. Together with our partners, we will ensure UCL continues to maximise the commercial opportunities of its innovative and ground-breaking research, with the aim of benefitting society as a whole and producing economic impact. The Fund exemplifies UCL’s Grand Challenges strategy which brings expertise from across UCL and beyond to solve key global problems.”
Russ Cummings, Chief Executive Officer at Imperial Innovations, said: “The quality of research at UCL means that there is already a wealth of opportunities to be exploited and this will provide even greater level of resources to UCLB to increase throughput. We expect our participation in this new fund will lead to a significant increase in our rate of investment in UCL related spinouts to which we will have access via our role in this new fund.”
Pier-Luigi Gilibert, Chief Executive at the European Investment Fund, said: “The UCL Technology Fund is the first fund backed by the EIF that focuses on proof of concept funding, licensing agreements and companies spun-out from across all academic disciplines from UCL. Good science is essential for successful technology transfer and UCL is a leading source of scientific research. We are pleased to join forces with Imperial Innovations to be part of this exciting new initiative.”