The University of Ulster has set up a venture capital fund to focus exclusively on university spin-out firms. Known as the Alpha Fund, it aims to encourage graduates and academics to set up high-tech businesses, particularly in the biotechnology sector, according to a report in the Irish Times.
Professor John Hughes, pro-vice chancellor of research and development at the university is currently raising support for the $15-25m fund. It will be operated independently but will be dedicated to start-ups arising from research at the University of Ulster. The fund is seeking backing from firms in the US as well as Asia.
Hughes said that fund was a way of combating the shortage of funding for entrepreneurs seeking significant start-up capital in Northern Ireland. The University of Ulster has already set up a separate firm, Ulster Science Parks, which provides incubation facilities and research and development links to the university for new start-ups on three campus sites in the North.