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IP2IPO forges second university alliance

IP2IPO Group has agreed a £5m link-up with the University of Southampton to invest in spin-out companies.

IP2IPO Group, the university partnerships subsidiary of Beeson Gregory, has formed a second alliance with a UK university, following on from its original deal with the University of Oxford in late 2000.

The latest transaction will see the University of Southampton link up with the firm as part of a deal that will see IP2IPO invest £5m in early-stage university spin-out companies over the next four years. In addition to acquiring minority stakes in these companies, IP2IPO will receive a 20 per cent stake in Southampton Asset Management, the University’s newly-established holding company.

IP2IPO will also assist the University’s Centre for Enterprise and Innovation to identify opportunities across the University. The university has a strong research record with an emphasis on optoelectronics, oceanography and medical research. Spin-outs from the University to date have included Southampton Photonics Inc, which raised $55m in first round funding in 2000, and Kymata, which was acquired in 2001 by Alcatel for $118m.

IP2IPO’s link up with the University of Oxford is now worth £20m and in January 2002 produced its first two spin out companies, Inhibox, a company developing drug design software and Pharminox, a cancer research.

“The University has a well-established research infrastructure that has already produced a number of successful companies. Unlike at Oxford [where the cash injection went towards the renovation of the university’s chemistry department], our role at Southampton will be to finance, develop and help to exploit the university’s strong IP potential.” according to IP2IPO CEO Chris Wright, who added that the firm was considering a number of other university link-ups with southern universities displaying similar research traditions.

IP2IPO will raise £3m via a placing of 1.8m shares at £1.60 in order to finance the partnership with the university.