Brunel University has signed a 10-year deal with a major venture capital group to provide £4.5m worth of funding for engineering and technology spin-out companies.
Close Venture Management (CVM) – a division of City heavyweight Close Brothers that specialises in venture capital trusts – will invest 10 per cent of a projected £45m trust in Brunel spin-outs.
The funding will be used to support early stage ventures emerging from Brunel’s School of Engineering and Design, and from the Wolfson Centre for Materials Processing.
Brunel said its spin-out success rate of 25 per cent, compared to an industry average of 10 per cent, proved engineering and technology innovations emerging from its laboratories are worth backing. Brunel companies already have a market value of more than £250m, it said.
Recent commercial ventures to emerge from Brunel include Active Fasteners, developer of self-releasing fasteners for the electronics and automotive industries, and Advanced Acoustic Emissions Systems, which is commercialising technology for early detection of material deformation in components and machines.
Brunel and CVM claimed their alliance represented a prototype for future link-ups between the worlds of finance and academic research.
‘This sort of funding is almost impossible to secure,’ said Brunel’s vice-chancellor Steven Schwartz. ‘The venture capital funds just do not exist and high-potential ideas are effectively stymied as a result.’
The university and CVM added that investors in the Brunel trust would enjoy significant tax breaks under rules announced in the last budget.
The agreement is the latest example of the City’s willingness to establish a formal relationship with academic centres of technology excellence.
Another is IP2IPO, which has agreements to nurture the technology spin-outs of universities including Oxford, Southampton and King’s College London.