LONDON – Venture Technologies has, like others recently, had to pull its Venture Technologies Academic Research Partners VCT PLC. The fund was aiming to raise GBP30 million ($42.8 million), but met with investor antipathy likely forced by current market conditions.
Venture Technologies itself is still in the midst of its fund raising, which, with the help of a placement agent, is aiming to raise GBP100 million. However, Roger Ashby who joined Venture Technologies last year specifically to raise and invest such a fund, will be more than happy to settle for between GBP30 million and GBP50 million. Currently, a deal is being finalized with a cornerstone investor and a first close with the inclusion of further investors is expected to follow shortly.
Venture Technologies will invest in the companies generated from the research carried by the Universities of Bristol and Southampton, and of the University College London and Imperial College London. Each of the four universities will have a 1% carry in the fund as soon as it is operational. If the VCT had been successful this would have allowed Ashby to invest in ideas generated by additional universities.
Ashby has considerable experience in operating with ideas spun out from university research laboratories. He was one of the founders of Kymata, which is the mesh of two ideas, one from Southampton University and the other from Glasgow University.
Ashby notes that the financial rewards put in place have incentivized university researchers to get involved with commercializing their ideas. Broadly speaking, the model sees the equity stake in a spun-out business retained by the university split in three ways. One third goes to the inventor, one third goes to the university and the remaining third goes toward research in the field of the inventor. It is the latter that Ashby has found to be the greatest motivator for inventors getting their ideas commercialized. This is because by and large being able to research in the field of their choice unimpeded by cost controls is a far greater motivation than pure personal financial gain. In return for its equity stake, the university hands over its intellectual property to the company.
Venture Technologies currently manages a GBP35 million portfolio on behalf of a private individual domiciled outside the U.K.