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31 March, 2015 - 18:19 By Tony Quested

Cambridge deals top $64.1bn in two years

Brother Industries’ bid $1bn for Cambridge ink jet world leader Domino Printing Science

March roared in like a lion to deliver another $2.08 billion worth of deals in the Cambridge UK business and technology cluster.

It took the 24 month tally in Business Weekly’s Cambridge Deals Digest  to $64.11bn – an average of $2.671bn every month.

The barometer shows the enduring scale-up ambitions of Cambridge-anchored businesses and the appetite of investors around the world to carve a slice of the pie.

Brother Industries’ $1bn-plus swoop for Cambridge ink jet world leader Domino Printing Science showed more than a yen for industry in the East of England.

For the first time since the Deals Digest began two years ago it was deals in general industry rather than life science that dominated dealflow and value.

Japanese giant Brother also ended the US domination of ink jet technology with the Domino deal.

Domino directors agreed to an offer of 915 pence per share. The stock surged over 30 per cent following the surprise takeover.

Brother Industries, which operates in 44 countries, makes equipment ranging from sewing machines and printers to online karaoke systems. It said that Domino would continue to be run as a stand alone operation.

Domino, which employs over 2900 staff, admitted last year that it was facing heavy pricing pressure in its Asian operations and that this would impact on its 2015 results.

It has stood alone for almost four decades as other ink jet companies in the cluster have been hoovered up by either Dover or Danaher in the US.

Another long-established Cambridge industrial player, Marshall Group, also stole the March headlines as Marshall Motor Holdings raised £40 million ($59.13m) from investors and confirmed its AIM IPO with shares starting trading this week.

The company floats at 149p per share and its approximate market capitalisation is £115.1m.

Sir Michael Marshall, chairman of Marshall of Cambridge (Holdings) Ltd said: “This is an exciting time for Marshall. We are proud to have nurtured our motor businesses for more than 105 years since they were founded by my grandfather in 1909.

“We are delighted now to see them become a free‐standing, independent company and we look forward to watching their progress. We wish everyone in Marshall Motor Holdings all the very best for the future.”

A singular hi-tech fundraising was the other major talking point of the month.

Cambridge UK cyber security trailblazer Darktrace raised $18 million from investors including Invoke Capital, Talis Capital, Hoxton Ventures and private individuals, valuing the company at $80m.

The company will continue its fast global growth with expansion into Asia Pacific after tripling headcount in the last year.

Darktrace, whose enterprise immune system technology protects companies from advanced cyber threats within their networks, recruited Sanjay Aurora – a 25-year enterprise software industry veteran – to oversee the expansion process in Asia Pacific. He was joined by John Muser, formerly of IBM Security, who is heading up Australia and New Zealand, and Stanley Hsu – ex McAfee Intel – who will lead emerging markets in South East Asia.

Darktrace CEO Nicole Eagan said: “Darktrace is growing at a phenomenal rate. It has been barely a year since we deployed to our first customer and now we have deployments at 75 companies and relationships with 50 partners across America, UK, continental Europe and the Middle East. Our headcount has tripled over the past year and expansion into Asia is a natural next step.”

Darktrace detects previously unknown threats in real time using advanced machine learning and mathematics developed at Cambridge University to analyse the behaviour of every device, user and network within an organisation.

ilumink, a Cambridge University spin-out that commercialises technology for brand authentication and anti-counterfeiting, was acquired by Tracerco – a Johnson Matthey company – for an undisclosed but significant sum.

The acquisition will further enhance Tracerco’s product assurance portfolio, which is based on covert marker chemistry coupled with sophisticated analytical platforms.

ilumink has developed new approaches for physical authentication with breakthroughs in printable laser technology; its approach is underpinned by novel, printed photonic materials created at the university.

Key applications include authentication, anti-counterfeiting and security products with potential markets ranging from high-value consumer goods to pharmaceuticals. The technology offers brand owners overt, covert and forensic authentication in one easily applied print feature, ilumink says.

Within life sciences, AstraZeneca agreed to pump substantial cash and expertise into Prime Minister David Cameron’s Genomics England project – designed to transform treatment for patients with cancer and rare diseases.

A consortium including Cambridge gene editing leader Horizon Discovery won £6.2 m ($9.16m) funding to advance biologics manufacturing in the UK.

A Cambridge medtech startup commercialising a ‘miracle’ antibody was acquired by global pharma giant Janssen just 21 months after launch. No figures are being disclosed but X01 was turbocharged with $11 million startup funding so the price won’t be cheap.

The founders described the antibody – ichorcumab  – as “the blood of the gods” and a “one in a billion” medical breakthrough, comparing it to Fleming’s discovery of penicillin 85 years ago. The novel anticoagulant has the potential to prevent heart attack and stroke without causing bleeding.

Dr Trevor Baglin and Professor Jim Huntington, who pioneered the breakthrough, put it down to a mix of science and serendipity – summoning the spirit of Fleming and Crick & Watson who discovered the structure of DNA 60 years ago with luck on their side.

The chance discovery came when Dr Baglin was fighting to save the life of a woman admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge in 2008 with potentially fatal head injuries and symptoms consistent with severe haemophilia.

To the medic’s amazement the bleeding stopped and Dr Baglin observed that the phenomenon was down to an antibody in the patient’s blood that caused “extraordinary anticoagulation in the absence of bleeding” – preventing lethal clotting.

Social venture Repositive Ltd – a spin-out from Cambridge-based charity DNAdigest – has raised $443k seed funding to launch a novel genomic data discovery platform.

Repositive is building a platform where genomic scientists can make their research data sets discoverable to their peers and find other researchers working with similar datasets.

Access to relevant genomic data is a growing problem for research in genetic diseases and cancer. Genetic research requires access to a large amount of data from both patients and healthy individuals in order to identify and validate genetic variants that are associated with disease.

Work began on the revolutionary new Papworth Hospital at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus after management agreed financial close with Skanska for the £140 million ($207.6m) construction project.

Professor John Wallwork, chairman of the hospital, said the move would “allow Papworth to revolutionise cardiothoracic care and treatment in the UK while allowing the hospital to offer the best possible care and treatment to our patients and future generations.”

He said the new hospital, built on a seven-acre site, would start taking shape over the coming months and the doors should be opened to the first patients in 2018.

The new Papworth Hospital will offer cutting-edge facilities for patients requiring heart and lung treatment, including:-
• 310 beds in virtually all single rooms
• A 46-bed critical care area including cardiac recovery unit and cardiac high dependency unit
• Seven state-of-the-art operating theatres
• Five catheter laboratories
• Six inpatient wards and a 24-bed day ward
• A centrally-located outpatient unit
• Advanced diagnostic and treatment facilities

Property deals across the cluster in March ran to $295.6m.

Fast-growing technology innovator Cambridge Consultants secured £6.2m ($9.16m) from Barclays to underpin expansion at its Science Park headquarters. 
 

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