“Recent years have seen accelerated and fundamental changes to the ecosystem of university research, commercialization and investment,” says Professor Jerome Engel. In a new article for The Future Planet Blog, below, he explores three of the most intriguing new trends: the rise of ‘university venture funds,’ the changing nature of corporate VC, and a big push from the government funders of university research."
A New Year is a time for resolutions. It is also a time of reflection, as we look back on twelve months of highs and lows for environmental policy – a subject closely intertwined with several of Future Planet’s core impact investment themes. We catch up with Nigel Saunders CEO of Sure Chill and Giffen Ott of Synova Power to see the how their technology is making a difference.
“Our shareholders are not like venture capital investors,” says Jim Wilkinson, the veteran CFO now steering the finances of Oxford Sciences Innovation, aka the largest university fund in the world. “This is a very different model which is all about encouraging patient capital.” Last month, FPB sat down with Jim to find out how OSI is putting that capital to work.
Few people are more familiar with the intricate and complex realities of “double bottom-line” investing than Elias Masilela. In his almost-four-year tenure as CEO of the US$140 billion South African Public Investment Corporation (PIC), the asset manager for Africa’s largest pension fund (GEPF), he not only grappled with the integration of investment goals and socioeconomic influence: he championed it on the global stage.
This week, we discuss our submission to the Government's recent consultation 'Financing Growth in Innovative Firms'. Published last month as part of the 'Patient Capital Review', the consultation sets out research and proposals for how Britain can provide the long-term capital required to scale and grow innovative companies. The results of the review are set to inform part of Phillips Hammond's Autumn Budget on 22 November.
On the back of a $4.5 million Seed financing round in 2015, SAM Labs – dubbed “the Lego of the internet generation” – has ramped up its mission to take its child-friendly electronic engineering toys from the playroom to the classroom. The three-year-old start-up is now winning recognition for its educational impact, including a 2017 Future Planet Award. FPB recently caught up with CEO Joachim Horn.
Today, the winner of the 2017 Future Planet Award for Healthcare is diversifying beyond its undoubtedly successful roots – keeping life-saving vaccines cold “off the grid” in some of the world’s poorest countries – and looking to take on the $90 billion* global refrigeration industry. This means new partnerships, new prototypes and, importantly, new potential investors. FPB went to find out more.
Bluepha, winner of the Future Planet Award for SUSTAINABLE GROWTH, is pioneering a revolutionary cost-effective method for producing bioplastics. This week, FPB speaks with CEO Terance Teng LI about his firm’s latest technical advances and commercial progress as they transition from the lab to the factory floor.
“Peter Thiel [the PayPal co-founder] studied Philosophy at Stanford. Ben Silbermann [co-founder and CEO of Pinterest] read Political Science. Brian Chesky [co-founder and CEO of Airbnb] studied Industrial Design. But now entrepreneurs with non-scientific backgrounds can’t even get meetings with most venture capital firms,” says Patrick Chung, General Partner and Co-Founder of Xfund.
On May 23rd a panel of judges, chaired by Lord Norman Foster, will quiz five fascinating start-ups, all winners of the 2017 Future Planet Awards, debating their merits in front of a live audience of investors and venture funds. The ultimate victor will carry away the ceremony’s top prize.
Since launching in 2016, Flock has raised half a million pounds from a combination of VC, angel and corporate investors. Pioneering a smarter drone insurance model based on Big Data analytics for quantifying drone flight risk in real time, the start-up has garnered interest from insurers, drone users and tech experts alike…and the first product hasn’t even been launched yet. In this week’s Future Planet Blog, CEO Ed Klinger tells us how they got started and explains why his investors have been “transformative” for the business.
Rajeeb Dey MBE, the youngest member of Future Planet’s advisory committee at the age of 31, has been founding and leading organisations since he was just 17. From entrepreneurial internship platform “Enternships.com” to professional learning services provider “Learnerbly,” Raj’s businesses have channelled his passion for reshaping the landscape of work and education in the 21st century. This week in the Future Planet Blog we pick his brains on start-ups, social impact and the “series A crunch.”
This week we speak with Lord Wei, one the judges of the upcoming Future Planet Awards. Launched this year in partnership with Global Corporate Venturing and Tsinghua Holdings Capital, these awards will celebrate the most exciting and innovative new businesses with the potential to address global challenges.
Last week, The Rise of British University Venture Funds - Part One explored the emergence of a new generation of UK institutions focused on innovation investing. When it comes to funding for university spin-outs, the country has progressed from being one of the world's laggards to one of its front-runners in just two years. It is now home to the world's largest university venture investor, Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI), and an expanding roster of similar entities.
In Part Two, we take a closer look at OSI and its Cambridge counterpart, Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC). Founded in 2015 and 2013 respectively, these two entities are now setting the tone for investment in the country's university clusters. They are also attracting the attention of sophisticated investors worldwide. With an evergreen structure enabling a more long-term horizon than conventional venture capital funds, their recent fundraising rounds have brought leading sovereign wealth funds and investment managers knocking alongside the more familiar UK university investors.
British venture: immature or ahead of the curve?
The road from laboratory to industry is a time consuming and long one, but the rise of a raft of new University Venture Funds (UVFs) in Britain is helping to transform the innovation landscape. The country is now home to an increasing number of firms committed to turning innovative ideas from academic organisations and associated clusters into world class companies.
In January 2017, the recently incarnated British Innovation Fund (sub-advised by Future Planet Capital and Milltrust Agricultural Investments) executed its first direct investment in a growth-stage technology business. PragmatIC Printing made waves in its early years, winning multiple start-up awards. Yet, as CEO and co-founder Scott White tells Future Planet, fostering serious innovation can be a slow-burn.
Last month saw the official launch of the British Innovation Fund, an evergreen vehicle focused on the commercialisation of UK university innovation, sub-advised by Future Planet Capital and Milltrust Group. Nick Greenwood, Chair of BIF's Investment Committee and Pension Fund Manager of its seed investor, sat down with FP to explain why the Royal County of Berkshire Pension Fund sees serious investment potential in British research...and how BIF plans to exploit it.
Innovation. We have the money. We have the minds. Now we need the Mojo.
Douglas Hansen-Luke, the Executive Chairman of Future Planet Capital, explores how Britain can maximise the effectiveness of it's leading institutions and innovators.
Following the Government's commitment to increasing spending on innovation and technology it's clear that we have the money, and with leading innovation centres including universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge, it's clear we have the minds.
However, do we have the mojo?