East Midlands university fund gets £2m boost

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A £2m boost from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will help a firm established to help commercialise technologies from universities in the East Midlands.

The Lachesis Fund has now received total investment of £10m since it was established in 2002 under the government’s University Challenge initiative.

With initial government investment of £3m, Lachesis was set up as a venture-capital seed fund in response to a need for funding for new technologies being developed by the five main research universities in the East Midlands − De Montfort, Loughborough, Leicester, Nottingham and Nottingham Trent − who each contributed £200,000 to the fund. A further £650,000 was also raised from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

The East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA), invested £3m in 2004 and £350,000 was secured through ERDF from a previous Objective 2 programme in 2005. However, Lachesis has now proven to be so effective that, with EMDA’s support, the fund has successfully bid for an additional £2m from the ERDF to further its work.

Lachesis is now being widened to include the universities of Derby, Lincoln and Northampton, who are joining as associate members.

To date the fund has invested over £6m in 54 projects, with nine of the ’spin-out’ companies that have received funding going on to raise a further £22m from other investors, creating over 30 jobs in the process.

Since its creation, the fund has been managed by Spark Venture Management − an early-stage venture-capital manager. Spark was recently reappointed as manager following a competitive tendering process.