QUBIS launches Seed Investment Fund

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Queen’s University Belfast

8th Sep 2021

The £1.2m fund will provide vital early–stage capital for university spin–out and start–up companies

The QUBIS Innovation Fund (“the Fund”) has been established specifically for university spin–out and start–up companies operating in the UK’s fastest growing sectors. The objective of the Innovation Fund is to enable more efficient deal closing for high potential companies through co–investment with aligned partners. Investments will qualify for SEIS and / or EIS tax relief (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme and / or Enterprise Investment Scheme ), helping to incentivise investors to back these early–stage ventures.

QUBIS, the commercialisation and investment arm of Queen’s University Belfast, is renowned for its strengths in entrepreneurship and innovation. Queen’s University was ranked 1st in the UK as the most entrepreneurial university in 2019 and 2020 according to an independent report having created 100 science and technology spin–outs, generating £323m in annual revenue and 3,100 jobs. Many of Northern Ireland’s top companies such as Kainos Group Plc (valued at over £2bn) and Fusion Antibodies Plc are from the QUBIS portfolio.

Supporting the next generation of successful innovative spin–outs and start–ups will be key to economic recovery and the UK’s levelling up agenda. A strong pipeline of investment opportunities is being delivered through commercialisation support programmes such as InnovateUK’s ICURe, supported by a network of experienced entrepreneurs and advisors.

Brian McCaul, CEO of QUBIS and Director of Innovation at Queen’s University Belfast commented: “We are incredibly excited to launch the QUBIS Innovation Fund. We’ve been on a mission to provide more efficient access to capital for university spin–outs to enable them to continue their R&D journey and get to market whilst the opportunity is there.

“The Innovation Fund will build on the great work already done to stimulate more angel and VC investment in the sector, working in partnership with other funders to help realise the potential of these innovative companies”.

Oisin Lappin, Corporate Finance Manager at QUBIS said: “The Innovation Fund is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, helping to incentivise private investors to back innovations that have the potential to make a real impact. It will back companies seeking to commercialise disruptive technology across a broad range of areas including life sciences, artificial intelligence and engineering.

We were delighted with the significant interest received during the launch of our first fund. It is clear that there is demand from investors to support this sector and our ambition is to build on this and raise larger funds to deliver further impact.”

The fund will be managed by Sapphire Capital Partners LLP, an award–winning investment manager based in London and Belfast which specialises in SEIS and EIS funds, working with QUBIS as the portfolio mentor.

Boyd Carson, Partner at Sapphire Capital said: “Sapphire are delighted to have partnered with QUBIS to create this Fund. Historically, significant amounts of capital within the early–stage space are drawn towards London. It is extremely positive for the economic outlook of Northern Ireland to have an exclusively private venture capital Fund dedicated to supporting ground–breaking innovation. The Fund marks the start of an exciting time for venture capital investment in Northern Ireland and we hope that further Funds will follow.”