A new £50m venture capital fund to invest into the UK life sciences sector has been launched today by NCL Technology Ventures bringing the potential for more jobs and opportunities at Discovery Park.
The fund will invest in high-growth SMEs with either game-changing medical technologies or specific areas of advanced therapeutics.
Backed by Kent County Council, it will work in partnership with the Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, King’s College London and the University of Kent and operate alongside public and private Healthcare Trusts, who will provide clinical support, validation and early adoption of the chosen investments.
While investing on a worldwide basis, the fund will look to attract companies wanting to establish a UK operating base as part of their global expansion plans.
Located in the UK, open to the world
This will be a significant contribution to the domestic life sciences sector which generates some £64bn of turnover every year and employs more than 233,000 scientists and staff.
Amanda Lennon, Head of Strategy and Innovation, Discovery Park, said: “This fund is perfect for us because it enables us to support those companies with their investment and their growth than we currently can do and we’re hoping that it’s the first of many that can be attracted to have a relationship with the site and with our companies.”
Speaking on behalf of NCL, Jonathan Synett, Investment Director said:
“Britain is an innovation nation; supporting and growing the UK life sciences sector is vital if we want to thrive after Brexit.
“We are at the forefront of a radical change in new medical technologies and therapeutics, from robotics to revolutionary cancer treatments. These advances will benefit millions of people and we’re looking to invest in start-ups and SMEs so they can scale up and reach the market with their cutting-edge innovations.
“We are delighted to launch our second fund, cementing our position as one of the UK’s premier emerging life science fund managers. The opportunities for investing at the forefront of the life sciences sector are immense.”
This will be NCL’s second fund. Their first ‘Discovery Park Fund’ invested £5m into 8 UK-based SMEs, including cutting edge companies working on combating antibiotic resistance and revolutionary forms of cancer treatments. This leveraged over £20m of private capital, gaining over £6.2m in grants, significantly boosting GVA.
Discovery Park supporting innovation
All 8 SMEs have operations based at NCL’s pharmaceutical facility at Discovery Park, Kent – the complex has over 1.4m sq ft of advanced labs, manufacturing space and testing facilities.
NCL will offer the SMEs receiving investment from its £50m fund new collaborative work space at the facility too, helping to create a thriving environment of high-growth companies that NCL can help accelerate safely through to market.
NCL has assembled a specialist investment team and Senior Scientific Advisory Board, which will help invest the funds capital with confidence and precision.
Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council said:
“Kent offers some of the most exciting economic growth prospects in the South East, and I’m delighted to see our region at the forefront of international business particularly around life-changing medical technologies.
“The county is an attractive place for business and I’m delighted that Kent County Council can continue to help and support local businesses grow stronger and more prosperous.”
The perfect location for science success
Chris Howie, Life Science Specialist – Europe at the Department for International Trade, said:
“The Discovery Park offering is a huge opportunity for the UK Life Science industry. It is a state of the art facility, giving SMEs and start-ups the perfect conditions and facilities to be successful. It provides an outstanding platform for companies to grow and develop within the UK space or plug in nicely to the European or Global markets.”
Professor Peter Hylands, Head of the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, King’s College London said:
“Pharmaceutical Science at King’s College London has a strong tradition of drug discovery and development. We are pleased to be partners with NCL Technology Ventures in developing opportunities for new medicines and medical technology originating from our Institute.”
Dr. Mike Westby is the CEO of Centauri Therapeutics, a start-up which develops novel drugs to treat life-threatening diseases. Based in Kent Discovery Park, they started up in 2015 and have secured up to £7m in investment and grants to date:
“We work on unique ways to treat life-threatening diseases from antibiotic-resistant bacteria. We design drugs that help the body’s immune system fight serious infections from surgical procedures such as childbirth and joint operations. Receiving funding from NCL Technology Ventures helped us set up our labs quickly and make rapid progress with research and development. We employ 15 scientists and staff members and are now moving forward to bring our drugs into clinics.”