Swansea University launches Innovation Fund for Spin-out Companies

Swansea University has launched a new Innovation Fund that will accelerate the commercialisation of its academic research.

 Innovation Fund

The Innovation Fund is the brain child of Dr Gerry Ronan, Head of Commercial Services at the University and will be overseen on a day to day basis by Dr Mark Bowman, Director of Arche Innovations Ltd.  Dr Bowman has significant previous experience of seed stage venture capital investment in UK university spin-out companies.

The Innovation Fund will offer two interlinked funding streams.  Firstly, smaller amounts of capital (up to £5,000) will be available for activities that ensure a long-term pipeline of investable projects.  Such activities will include the commissioning of market and technical reports as part of the investment due diligence process.  Secondly, debt or equity based investment of up to £50,000 will be offered to Swansea University spin-out companies as part of syndicated deals with third party venture capital or business angel investors.  This co-investment strategy is designed to ensure that only spin-outs that are deemed investable by professional fund managers will be eligible.

The Innovation Fund has been inspired by the success of the University’s InvestorG8 investor readiness pilot programme.  The £450,000 Welsh Government funded initiative supported 9 projects over a 10 month period, with 8 new companies or joint ventures being launched as a result.  InvestorG8 has already yielded a number of substantial offers of investment into these new businesses, and is on course to deliver a 10 fold return on the public funding received in 2014

Activities these projects were involved in included the design of a unique solar product that could be integrated into the fabric of buildings to generate renewable energy, the development of a diagnostic tool for the cholesterol-related disorder Cerebrotendinous Xanthomatosis and the development of a product to combat human resistance to antibiotics.

Dr Ronan said “InvestorG8 has delivered a step change in spin-out activity at Swansea University.  The decision to launch an Innovation Fund is part of a broader strategy to support spin-out formation and to ensure that such companies are properly financed.  We fully expect to leverage significant additional investment from third party venture capital funds and business angel networks.”

Dr Bowman added “Having been intimately involved with the delivery of the InvestorG8 investor readiness pilot programme, I am delighted to add my experience of seed stage venture capital investment to the range of skills available within Gerry’s team.  We are determined to use this Innovation Fund to secure deals with a range of local and national investors, and in so doing ensure the long term success of the spin-out companies emerging from Swansea University.”

Professor Richard Davies, Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University concluded “Swansea University has a strong history of delivering technologies used in a wide range of industries usually through collaborative programmes with large companies.  Now that we are recognised as being a top-30 UK university for the quality of our research, we have a responsibility to play a larger role in supporting the development of a modern knowledge-led economy.  The launch of the Innovation Fund reinforces our ambition to enable the creation of successful, high-growth spin-out companies and to pro-actively assist in their financing.  The Innovation Fund is yet another example of innovative technology transfer practices being developed by Dr Ronan and the Research, Engagement & Innovation Services team.  I particularly welcome Gerry’s use of outside experts such as Dr Bowman in order to deliver our ambitious plans for commercialisation at the University.”