BioScience Managers Limited (BML), a bioscience fund manager, and Imperial College London, a UK science-based university, are to create a new venture capital fund that will focus on assisting early stage medical and life science companies.
The ‘BML Ventures Imperial Fund’, with a target size of £50 million, will make investments in 12-15 start-up and early-stage companies in the healthcare sector.
The Fund will have exclusive preferential access to opportunities emerging from Imperial College London in the medical and life sciences sectors, and anticipates that approximately 50% of its funds will be invested in young companies built upon Imperial College science, including research from one of the largest medical schools in Europe. The remainder will be invested in similar opportunities predominantly in the UK.
BML and Imperial College believe there is a significant unmet market need in the UK for venture funds that bridge the gap between early-stage entrepreneurial activities – backed for example by local business angels or the government’s University Challenge Fund scheme – and the types of investment opportunity in which the traditional, mainstream venture capital firms are engaged.
The BML Ventures Imperial Fund will aim to close this ‘development gap’ which currently leaves newly formed science, technology and healthcare companies struggling to raise funds between £0.5 million and £5 million.
The Fund intends to focus on companies that are built upon superior science or technologies, with strong intellectual property positions and global potential.
The Fund’s investment team will be led by Alex Korda, founder of listed biotechnology companies such as Xenova and Morphosys and Dr. Graham Fagg, who built and led Catalyst BioMedica, the Wellcome Trust subsidiary focused on early-stage healthcare opportunities. It will be supported by Dr. Jonathan Hepple, formerly part of the Rothschild Asset Management team.
The investment team will be backed up by BML, the fund management and corporate advisory group founded by Jeremy Curnock-Cook, former head of the life science private equity team at Rothschild. It will work closely with Imperial College Innovations, the wholly-owned technology transfer company of Imperial College led by Susan Searle.
BML has commenced marketing the Fund and is in discussions with a number of potential corporate and institutional investors.