QUBIS, the commercialisation and investment arm of Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), has announced the creation of a £1.2m seed fund.

The QUBIS Innovation Fund will focus on supporting university spin-out companies and start-ups operating in the UK’s fastest growing sectors. It will be managed by Sapphire Capital Partners, with QUBIS as the portfolio mentor.

The fund is expected to make investments of between £50,000 and £150,000 at a time.

Brian McCaul, the organisation’s CEO as well as director of innovation at QUB, commented: “We are incredibly excited to launch the QUBIS Innovation Fund.

“We’ve been on a mission to provide more efficient access to capital for university spin-outs to enable them to continue their R&D journey and get to market while the opportunity is there.”

McCaul continued: “The Innovation Fund will build on the great work already done to stimulate more angel and VC investment in the sector, working in partnership with other funders to help realise the potential of these innovative companies.”

Oisin Lappin, corporate finance manager at QUBIS, added: “The Innovation Fund is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, helping to incentivise private investors to back innovations that have the potential to make a real impact.

“It will back companies seeking to commercialise disruptive technology across a broad range of areas including life sciences, artificial intelligence and engineering.”

QUBIS says that it has helped to create 100 science and technology spin-out companies employing a collective 3,100 people and generating £323m annually. Kainos and Fusion Antibodies are among its alumni.

It also notes that QUB was ranked as the UK’s most entrepreneurial university in both 2019 and 2020.

Boyd Carson, partner at Sapphire Capital, said: “Sapphire are delighted to have partnered with QUBIS to create this fund.

“Historically, significant amounts of capital within the early-stage space are drawn towards London. It is extremely positive for the economic outlook of Northern Ireland to have an exclusively private venture capital fund dedicated to supporting groundbreaking innovation. The fund marks the start of an exciting time for venture capital investment in Northern Ireland and we hope that further funds will follow.”

Source: QUBIS launches £1.2m seed fund for university spin-offs