BioScience Managers Ltd (BML), the UK-based bioscience fund manager, has announced a joint initiative with Imperial College London to raise a fund aimed at backing early-stage medical and life science companies emerging from the university.
The BML Ventures Imperial Fund, which has a target size of £50m, will make investments in 12 to 15 start-up and early-stage companies in the healthcare sector. In a statement, BML said it would aim to close the 'development gap' which currently leaves newly formed science, technology and healthcare companies struggling to raise funds between £0.5m and £5m.
The fund will have exclusive access to opportunities emerging from Imperial College’s medical and life sciences sectors – approximately 50 per cent of its funds will be invested in young companies built upon Imperial College science. The remainder will be invested in similar opportunities predominantly in the UK.
The fund’s investment team will be led by Alex Korda, founder of listed biotechnology companies including Xenova and Morphosys and Graham Fagg, who built Catalyst BioMedica, the Wellcome Trust subsidiary focused on early-stage healthcare opportunities, and supported by Jonathan Hepple, formerly part of the Rothschild Asset Management team.
The investment team will be backed up by BML, the fund management and corporate advisory group founded by Jeremy Curnock-Cook, former head of the life science private equity team at Rothschild. Earlier this month, BML announced plans to raise a E150m fund targeting consolidation in Europe’s mid-stage life sciences sector.
“There is a dearth of funds for early-stage bioscience companies in the UK,” according to Jeremy Curnock-Cook, chairman of BML. “The growth of entrepreneurialism during the past few years has coincided with a downturn in market conditions, with the result that there is a wealth of early-stage opportunity and nowhere for it to go.”