The University of Edinburgh is to invest in a venture capital fund focusing on early stage life sciences companies. The new fund, which will be managed by US-based Rock Spring Ventures, will engage closely with the University’s company formation teams at Edinburgh Research and Innovation and Edinburgh BioQuarter. Spin-out and start-up companies from the University’s research labs will make up a substantial proportion of the fund’s deal-flow.
The University of Edinburgh’s investment was made by its in-house venture capital arm, Old College Capital. The University of Aberdeen and the University of Glasgow have joined Edinburgh in making investments; spin-out and start-up companies from those universities will also benefit from the new source of funds. Other investors in the new fund include the European Investment Fund, Strathclyde Pension Fund and Scottish Enterprise.
Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, University of Edinburgh Principal, explained that the University was “a world leader in life sciences research and has an international reputation as a launch pad for new technology-based companies. We look forward to working closely with Rock Spring Ventures, so that more of our excellent life sciences spin-out and start-up companies secure the sort of investment they require to deliver an impact on the international stage. Those companies’ achievements will ensure that more of the University’s life sciences research transfers from the laboratory towards benefiting society and the Scottish economy.”
The fund’s investment focus – on novel approaches to needs in the study and treatment of major diseases and technologies designed to advance better healthcare delivery – has synergies with a range of areas of world class research expertise in the University. Perhaps most notable is the University’s College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine and its BioQuarter Programme, which initially attracted Rock Spring Ventures to Edinburgh. However, the fund’s focus also touches on other areas of science, most notably Chemistry and Biological Sciences and aligned new software developments in Physics and Informatics. Of the 110 companies that the University has helped to form in the last three years, 13 have emerged from those research areas. Rock Spring Ventures’ new Edinburgh base will ensure it is able to review those exciting new developments at first hand.
An important element of the partnership with Rock Spring Ventures is that it involves three Scottish universities with a global reputation for life science research – Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow – who have worked closely together to secure this fund for Scotland. Sinclair Dunlop, Managing Partner of Rock Spring Ventures, noted: “We are particularly excited to be partnering with a unique investor group that includes three of Scotland’s world-class universities to provide the capital needed to realise the full potential of their spin-out companies.”
Derek Waddell, Director of Research Services and Commercialisation at the University of Edinburgh, noted: “We have worked closely with colleagues in the Universities of Aberdeen and Glasgow in helping to establish the Rock Spring Ventures fund, and we will continue to work closely with them and all partners to ensure the Scottish economy benefits from Rock Spring Ventures coming to Scotland.”
Professor Stephen Logan (left), Senior Vice-Principal, University of Aberdeen, added that his university was “delighted to be part of this exciting new partnership. By collaborating in this way, we and our partners have created a significant fund for life science companies, and this combined with experienced venture capital management will have the capability to leverage additional funds to enable fledgling companies to grow.”
Professor Steve Beaumont, Vice Principal Research and Enterprise at theUniversity of Glasgow, was pleased to be part of the new venture, adding that “Scotland’s life science expertise is admired around the world and we’re confident Rock Spring Ventures will provide cutting-edge bioscience spinouts with the early-stage assistance they need to reach their full potential.”