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3 July, 2019 - 12:58 By Tony Quested

Ahren’s deep tech and science fund closes at over $250m

Ahren has completed the close of its curated limited partner fund at more than $250 million. 

The UK-run initiative now has buy-in from some of the world’s most successful investors; unicorn company founders and family-owned businesses and blue-chip institutions, including Sky and Unilever.

Ahren was founded by Alice Newcombe-Ellis, the CEO, together with a select group of Cambridge University’s most successful entrepreneurial technologists and scientists – christened ‘Dontrepreneurs’ by Business Weekly over 20 years ago.

Ahren invests at the intersection of deep technology and deep science in four domains – the brain and artificial intelligence; genetics and platform technologies; space and robotics; and efficient energy technology. 

The fund is focused on supporting the finest company founders with the potential to penetrate, or create, large markets.  

Alice Newcombe-Ellis said: “We feel privileged to have an LP base of exceptional individuals and institutions sharing Ahren’s vision and values. We consider this our valued ‘family’ of thought-leaders, shaping the future together.

“We now focus our attention on actively supporting entrepreneurs to achieve their ambitions. We are very selective in identifying outstanding opportunities, but once we invest, we are deeply committed to helping ensure their success.”

Sir Shankar Balasubramanian, founding science partner at Ahren, and principal inventor of the world’s leading DNA sequencing technology, said: “The best entrepreneurs look to raise capital from groups they trust, respect and want to be like; and groups that can have a differentiated impact on their success. We aim to inspire, create, nurture and build great enterprises.”

Ahren’s investment model is exemplified by its two most recent investments: Ahren participated in the Series D fundraise of Graphcore and led the follow-on seed investment in Mogrify – both leading companies of the future at the intersection of deep tech and deep science, with the potential to penetrate, or create, vast markets. 

Bristol-based Graphcore attacks the problem of making AI operations more efficient and faster, accelerating the advance of machine learning; while Cambridge shooting star, Mogrify, has developed a proprietary direct cellular conversion technology to transform any mature human cell type into any other. 

Ahren’s founding & science partners include Newcombe-Ellis, Sir Shankar, Professor John Daugman, the inventor of IRIS (eye) recognition technology and Prof Zoubin Ghahramani, world leader in machine learning and co-founder of Geometric Intelligence, which was sold to Uber for an undisclosed amount.

They were joined at launch by Prof Steve Jackson, founder/co-founder of three companies and originator of Olaparib/Lynparza, recently partnered by AstraZeneca with Merck and valued as an asset at up to $17 billion; Prof Andy Parker, CERN leader and head of the Cavendish Laboratory; Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, Nobel laureate and President of the Royal Society; Lord Martin Rees, world-renowned astrophysicist and Astronomer Royal and  Sir Greg Winter, 2018 Nobel laureate, inventor of technology leading to Humira ($18bn sales in 2017, the world’s greatest grossing drug).

Chairman of the Ahren LP Limited Partner Advisory Committee is Robert Swannell, who is also chair of UK Government Investments, the UK Government’s centre of excellence in corporate finance and governance.

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