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7 March, 2011 - 18:57 By Tony Quested

Funder profile: Cambridge Enterprise Seed Funds


Cambridge Enterprise is the commercialisation arm of the University of Cambridge. It uses its seed funds to encourage commercialisation of university inventions through investing at the earliest of stages to attract smart money and management into emerging companies.

Cambridge Enterprise Seed Funds – comprising the Discovery Fund, Challenge Fund and Venture Fund, is a resource for members of the University of Cambridge and the Babraham Institute. Investments are priced and structured competitively with other sources of early stage seed capital in order to encourage co-investment, follow-on funding and commercialisation of University of Cambridge and Babraham Institute inventions.

Funding of various levels is available for different objectives:-

• PathFinder funding of up to £10k is available to carry out market and IP assessments, plan marketing strategies, etc.

• Concept funding of up to £60k can be used for applied development, to prove a concept, assess the market, and so on. This could lead to a licence for University intellectual property.

• Seed funding of up to £250k to set up a new company (done in concept), joint venture or partnership.

Cambridge Enterprise Seed Funds maintain links to Venture Capitalists, so that when start-ups need further investment rounds they can offer a route and assistance.

The Cambridge Enterprise Venture Partners (CEVP) meet three times a year for an evening of presentations followed by dinner at one of the Cambridge colleges, providing an ideal forum in which investment-ready University of Cambridge originated companies can pitch to the members in a select and informal setting. The aim is to provide co-investment and next round investment opportunities to the group where the Cambridge Enterprise Seed Funds have already invested. There are currently nine CEVP members, comprising one business angel syndicate and eight venture capital firms.

Examples of Cambridge enterprise portfolio companies

Amantys - www.amantys.comAmantys Ltd was established in 2010 to bring power electronics technology developed at Cambridge University to market. The company is developing power electronics products that have a high level of programmability, enabling new and exciting possibilities in the field of power electronics design.

Ampika Ltd - engages in researching and isolating and developing active compounds from rainforest plants. It develops consumer products and prescription drugs from plant-based compounds. The company was founded in 2003 and is based in Cambridge. It aims to reduce the time to success for innovative plant-derived drugs by creating bio-active compounds from plants growing in the rainforest to sell to the drug marker for pre-clinical trials.

Astex Therapeutics - www.astex-therapeutics.comAstex was founded in 1999 by Harren Jhoti, PhD, former Head of Structural Biology and of UK Bioinformatics at GlaxoWellcome, together with Professor Sir Tom Blundell, FRS, Professor Chris Abell, (both of University of Cambridge) and Dr Roberto Solari, who was a director at the founding investors, Abingworth. The co-founders' vision for Astex was to develop the use of high-throughput X-ray crystallography in a novel fragment-based approach to drug discovery. Since the company’s inception in 1999, the consistent vision of the co-founders has materialised into a leading European biotechnology company that has pioneered and successfully established this new approach to drug discovery. Since Astex began its operations it has raised more than £80 million in equity finance from leading biotech investors and corporates in the USA and in Europe.

Astex operates from a purpose-built, 36,000 sq ft R & D facility on the Cambridge Science Park and has a staff of around 75, more than 45 of whom have PhD's.

Biotica - www.biotica.comBiotica is a development stage drug discovery company. It was founded in 1996 on the research of two Cambridge University Professors, Peter Leadlay and Jim Staunton. Since then it has grown through a series of collaborations into a successful drug discovery and development business. Biotica’s distinctive and proprietary drug discovery platform generates improved derivatives of important drugs that are inaccessible by medicinal chemistry.

BlueGnome Ltd - www.cambridgebluegnome.comBlueGnome is a leading provider of complete solutions for implementation of arrayCGH for investigation of constitutional samples. The CytoChip platform includes high quality research use only microarrays, state-of-the-art software for automated analysis and reporting (BlueFuse for Microarrays), quality controlled consumable kits (Fluorescent Labelling Kit) for robust use, and confirmatory FISH probes (BlueFISH Confirmatory Probes).

Breathing Buildings - www.breathingbuildings.comBreathing Buildings provides low energy ventilation systems, using the principles of natural mixing ventilation in winter and natural upward displacement ventilation in the summer. It was established in 2006 after developing its technology at the University of Cambridge.

CAMBfix - www.cambfix.comCAMBfix is a Cambridge University spin-off founded in 2004 and incorporated in 2006. It has successfully incubated new technologies and brought them from the bench-to-bedside by carrying out cutting edge in-house research and extensive multinational research collaborations. The goal of Cambfix is to provide innovative, high quality medical devices for use in orthopaedic and trauma surgery. Its first generation products utilise Cambfix’s patented platform technology to develop devices focusing on fracture treatment. The company will work in collaboration with world-class surgeons in order to continue to develop novel concepts which have real, tangible use in surgery and post-operative recovery.

Cambridge CMOS Sensors Limited - www.ccmoss.comCambridge Enterprise has made a second investment in Cambridge CMOS Sensors, which is developing innovative gas-sensing microsystems. The Cambridge-based company, founded in 2008, developed out of research from the University’s Department of Engineering. The company recently made its first sales to two leading international sensor companies and signed an agreement with a UK-based sensor manufacturer to develop gas sensors using Cambridge CMOS Sensors’ technology. Gas-sensing technology currently has a wide range of residential, commercial and academic applications, including domestic gas detectors, industrial safety, explosive detection, medical diagnostics and environmental monitoring. Cambridge CMOS Sensors has patented a microsytem technology that involves new types of silicon-on-insulator (SOI) complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) heatersfor application in microsensors.

Cambridge Innovision Ltd - www.cambridgeinnovision.comThe aim of Cambridge Innovision (CIV) – based on Cambridge University technology – is to provide high quality 3D models of real objects as a cost efective alternative to laser range scanners and manually constructed models. CIV's technology provides fast, low-cost modelling for use in manufacturing, medical imaging, construction, robotics, movies, museums, video games, online exhibitions and shopping.

Cambridge Mechatronics - www.cambridgemechatronics.comCambridge Mechatronics (CML) conceives, develops and pioneers innovative actuation solutions for consumer electronics. This involves the development and provision of semiconductor devices, software and other Intellectual Property. CML has a portfolio of over 100 patents with many more filings in process. Initially CML focused on audio applications. It developed ASICs and software to control arrays of transducers such that they produce multiple concentrated sound beams. This led to CML's multi-patented Digital Sound Projector (DSP) platform, universally acknowledged to be the best means of delivering front rendered 5.1surround sound. DSP can be found in the highest quality soundbars and televisions sold by Beko, Grundig, Loewe, Mitsubishi, Pioneer and Yamaha. In the 12 months to March 2010 CML enjoyed record revenues and the shipment of the 500,000th DSP-based product.

Cambridge Superconductors - www.cambridgesuperconductors.comThis is a new company specialising in large grain, single crystal, High Temperature Superconductors. Its roots are in the Interdiscipliary Research Centre in Superconductivity at the University of Cambridge, UK. The company aims to make available, to researchers and users, products based on innovations in the processing and performance of RE(BCO) superconductors.

It has developed a new nano-scale flux pinning phase (patent pending) that can trap magnetic fields well in excess of those achievable using conventional permanent magnets and offer clear processing and performance enhancements over existing bulk HTS materials.

CellCentric Ltd - www.cellcenttric.comCellCentric has a dominant discovery platform in epigenetics, based on an unparalleled worldwide hub & spoke network of over 30 leading researchers at major institutions. CellCentric’s unique, global platform has enabled the company to identify, prioritise and rapidly progress unexploited therapeutic targets for drug discovery. It has has multiple epigenetic based drug discovery programs underway. The company aims to develop novel therapeutics for cancer and degenerative diseases, as well as a variety of near to market, non-clinical uses. Founded in 2004, CellCentric is a privately funded company. Investors include Morningside Venture Investments, Avlar BioVentures, Takeda Research Investments, Providence Investment Company, the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts, the Rainbow Seed Fund and Cambridge University’s Seed Funds.

Chroma Therapeutics - www.chromatherapeutics.comChroma Therapeutics is focused on harnessing the power of chromatin biology and novel drug accumulation approaches to discover and develop a new generation of targeted cancer and inflammation treatments.

De Novo Pharmaceuticals Ltd - www.denovopharma.comDe Novo Pharmaceuticals is a world leader in the field of computational drug design located in Cambridge UK. Its proprietary algorithm-based platform SkelGen™ is a chemical structure generator that can make the drug discovery process faster, cheaper and more effective, with the benefit that it explores a chemical space of enormous magnitude compared to the size of existing chemical libraries.

Funxional Therapeutics - www.funxionaltherapeutics.comFunxional Therapeutics Ltd (FXT) is a privately held, clinical stage pharmaceutical company based in Cambridge. Its focus is on novel anti-inflammatory therapies with the lead product (FX125L, an orally available small molecule acting as a Broad Spectrum Chemokine Inhibitor) that has completed the Phase I studies in the US. The clinical indications targeted with FX125L include respiratory disorders such as asthma and COPD,  supported by  numerous studies in animal models which have consistently suggested that in the clinic FX125L may have similar efficacy but better safety than corticosteroids and superior efficacy than montelukast. FXTs two proprietary technologies were originated within Cambridge University.

Lumora Ltd - Ely-based company is developing a new generation of molecular diagnostics based on its proprietary 'BART' technology, that are simple to use and affordable. Its present focus is to develop highly distributed molecular tests for the food sector where there is an increasing demand for rapid, sensitive and highly specific tests not only for food-borne pathogens but also for GMO detection and the establishment of food provenance. The founding technology offers a means to couple the sensitive detection of specific analytes, e.g. nucleic acids, proteins or small molecules, to a quantitative, real-time luminescent output. The use of luminescence instead of e.g. fluorescence, permits far simpler hardware platforms to be employed reducing both hardware and reagent costs.

Lumora was founded in 2002 by Laurence Tisi and Jim Murray, when it was spun-out from the Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge. Following two funding rounds, Lumora is seeking partners to bring its core technology to market across multiple sectors.

Q-Flo - www.q-flo.comQ-Flo was formed in 2004 by Professor Alan Windle and Dr Martin Pick as a spin-out company from the Department of Materials Science at the University of Cambridge. It is commercialising a carbon nanotube fibre process which was invented in Prof Windle’s labs. Plasan, a global leader in survivability and combat-proven armour solutions and Q-Flo have formed a JV enterprise, TorTech Nano Fibres Ltd, based in Israel. It will produce carbon nanotube fibre for the enhancement of body armour and composite armour systems for vehicles. The new material is stronger than Kevlar and other ballistic fabrics, but still flexible and lightweight. Q-Flo retains rights for other potential applications.

Sure Laboratories - www.surelaboratories.comDemerged from BlueGnome, Sure Laboratories offers a range of microarray based tests including PGS aneuploidy screening of single cells in IVF applications and the investigation of genomic copy number imbalance as an alternative to, or in combination with, karyotyping and other clinical cytogenetic techniques.

Vivamer Ltd - www.vivamer.comVivamer creates novel drugs based on its unique responsive biopolymer chemistry platform. Spun out of Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Cambridge, the company was established in 2002 to commercialise technology developed by founders Professor Nigel Slater and Dr Mark Eccleston.

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