Albion Ventures, one of the largest independent venture capital investors in the UK is to manage and administer the newly launched UCL Technology Fund, (“the Fund”), which has raised £50 million to commercialize University College London’s (“UCL”) world-class research output.
Albion will manage and administer the Fund in partnership with UCL’s technology transfer company UCL Business (“UCLB”), with whom it has a long-standing relationship including co-investment.
Albion has worked closely with UCLB to devise an innovative structure for the Fund, which will support high quality research projects with significant commercial potential. The Fund is different from most venture funds in a number of ways, designed to be optimal for the commercialization of intellectual property (IP): first, it will be able to invest at a very early stage by providing proof-of-concept funding to a number of projects but still be able to follow through to full commercial development, enhanced by its ability to draw on significant further potential co-investment funds; second, it has the flexibility of pursuing either a capital-efficient licensing route towards commercialization, or the creation of spin-out companies; third, the Fund is less restricted by specific exit timeframes so can remain invested for as long as required to achieve the best outcome for each opportunity. Lastly, the unique partnership approach with UCLB creates a strong combination of commercialization and investment skills and capabilities.
This approach leverages Albion’s deep experience in supporting high growth companies through to later stage venture investment and eventual exit. The Fund is cornerstoned by experienced venture investors, the European Investment Fund (EIF) and Imperial Innovations, together with contributions from Albion and UCLB.
The Fund will support ideas from all of UCL’s academic areas but will have a strong focus on the physical and life science sectors. Investment decisions will be made by an independent investment committee, led by Albion. Given the quality and quantity of UCL’s research output, it is expected that the Fund will make its first investments within the first three months and complete its initial rounds over five years. The Fund will look to work closely with other significant funders of IP commercialization, to help to take an optimized and long-term approach.
Patrick Reeve, Managing Partner at Albion Ventures said: “The UCL Technology Fund represents a significant milestone in commercializing university research output, which is playing an increasingly important role in stimulating wider economic growth. UCL has an outstanding track record in developing innovative research ideas and thanks to this new Fund, we are excited by the prospect of being able to see many of these reach their full commercial potential. The development of this Fund demonstrates the full breadth of Albion’s capabilities in venture investing and we look forward to achieving further breakthroughs in the years ahead that will have a positive impact on wider society.”
Dr Andrew Elder, Partner at Albion Ventures said: “The UCL Technology Fund breaks new ground in IP investing through its long-term partnership approach that enables high quality research ideas to be taken from proof-of-concept stage through multiple funding rounds to a successful exit with the most appropriate level of capital and capital-efficiency. This approach, which has been co-developed through our strong relationship with UCLB, is made possible through the combined extensive experience of Albion in growing companies and successful investing coupled with UCLB’s experience in commercializing university IP. The innovative partnership will ensure that UCL’s academics will have the best support possible to enable their ideas to be successfully commercialized.”
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.