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14 July, 2015 - 10:07 By Tony Quested

Cambridge can tap Imperial’s new £50m cash for biotech spin-offs

Jonathan Taylor and Russ Cummings

Imperial Innovations, anchored at Babraham near Cambridge, has clinched a new £50 million loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to support investment in the UK biotech and life science sector. 

This is particularly good news for life science companies in the southern corridor chiefly targeted by Innovations – Cambridge, London and Oxford.

The new support from Europe’s long-term lending institution will be used by Innovations to help harness more research ideas and turn them into commercial success.

Imperial Innovations works with Europe’s top four research intensive universities in Imperial College, Oxford, Cambridge, and UCL to identify exciting university research at an early stage and develop it to build substantial, high quality, well-funded and well-managed businesses. 

The loan will be used to support equity investment in life science spin-off companies and follows the successful investment of a £30m EIB loan agreed two years ago.

Russ Cummings, CEO at Imperial Innovations said: “Since securing the first EIB facility in July 2013, the support of the EIB has allowed Innovations to invest more than £62m in early-stage life sciences companies, across 23 companies, which includes the addition of seven new companies to our portfolio. 

“The original plan was to commit this expenditure over a five-year period, but we have been able to execute the plan in only two by virtue of the increasing maturity of our portfolio and the rich opportunities derived from our extensive network of academics, entrepreneurs, management teams and co-investors within the ‘Golden Triangle” of London, Oxford and Cambridge.

“To secure a second facility from the EIB is a clear endorsement of the quality, maturity and breadth of our portfolio, as well as our expertise in investing and developing both early stage and developing businesses.” 

Jonathan Taylor, European Investment Bank vice-president, endorsed the rationale. He said: “Investment in knowledge driven and highly skilled sectors is crucial to strengthen Europe’s long-term global competitiveness.

“The European Investment Bank is committed to supporting investment that harnesses research to create skilled jobs and commercial success. Imperial Innovations has set a benchmark for transforming cutting-edge research into some of the UK’s most exciting early-stage biotech and medtech companies.

“The European Investment Bank is pleased to again support Imperial Innovations in helping new companies emerge from the world-class research emanating from the UK’s life science sector.

“I am confident that this new loan will allow the group to increase its engagement and ultimately accelerate the translation of outstanding research into new and better treatments and techniques for patients.” 

He said the extra funding would enable Innovations to increase the rate and scale of its investment in both existing and new portfolio companies, in particular in the therapeutics and medtech sectors. 

The new loan is part of the dedicated InnovFin initiative to improve access to finance for research and innovation. 

Last year the EIB provided €13.3 billion for investment to support innovation, skills and competitive, including support for spin-off companies and digital networks. It has recently started lending under the European Fund for Strategic Investment Initiative expected to support €315bn of new innovation, infrastructure and SME investment.

• PHOTOGRAPH: Jonathan Taylor, EIB vice-president (left) with Imperial Innovations CEO, Russ Cummings

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