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23 January, 2013 - 09:45 By Tony Quested

£1 billion Cambridge technology brain gain

Tony-Raven - Chief Executive of Cambridge Enterprise

Science & technology companies that have their research roots in Cambridge University in the UK have now raised more than £1 billion in funding.

The brain gain has been revealed in the year-end results from Cambridge Enterprise, the university’s commercialisation arm. And there’s a lot more where that came from, according to Dr Tony Raven, Cambridge Enterprise’s chief executive.

He said: “Cambridge spin-outs are developing solutions in cancer treatment, renewable energy and in vitro fertilisation. The amount of follow-on funding raised demonstrates the market’s confidence in our portfolio companies and also shows the importance of the early-stage support and funding which Cambridge Enterprise provides.”

One important area of future growth is stem cells. The university is a world leader in stem cell research and commercial opportunities are now starting to be developed.

As Business Weekly recently revealed, DefiniGEN – founded by a group of researchers from the Anne McLaren Laboratory of Regenerative Medicine – is supplying stem cells to the drug discovery and regenerative medicine sectors, where they will be used to model a range of diseases and accelerate the development of new treatments.The £1 billion funding figure, which can be found in Cambridge Enterprise’s full end-of-year report, shows that many spinouts on to flourish despite the uncertain basis on which they start out.

The new results also show that the three-year survival rate for companies receiving investment from Cambridge Enterprise is 80 per cent, compared to the national average of 58 per cent.

Cambridge Enterprise’s total income from licensing, consultancy and equity transactions for the year ending July 31 exceeded £9.1 million, with £7.5 million of that amount returned to the university, departments and researchers. The team completed 84 licences, signed 201 consultancy contracts and returned more than £162,000 to its seed funds.

Supporting University researchers in obtaining the funding to progress their research has become an important area for Cambridge Enterprise: this year, more than £17.5 in translational funding was won by university researchers with the support of the team.

This funding is helping develop new therapies and treatments for conditions which affect millions worldwide, including liver disease, chronic pain and healthcare-associated infections.

Cambridge Enterprise works with university inventors and entrepreneurs to get young, high-risk companies to the stage where they can attract outside investment, through mentoring, planning advice and seed funding.

One of the most successful companies in the Cambridge Enterprise portfolio is BlueGnome, which was co-founded by Dr Nick Haan, a former PhD student and post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Engineering.

The company, which is one of the fastest-growing biotechnology companies in the UK according to the Deloitte Technology Fast 50, has developed technology which has been shown to increase IVF success rates by 65 per cent over current methods.

The company is rated so highly globally that in September was acquired by US-based life sciences company Illumina for $95 million. The university’s proceeds from the sale will be returned to the ‘evergreen’ seed funds managed by Cambridge Enterprise, and will support the next generation of Cambridge spin-outs.

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