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Plugging One VC Gap

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

Two years ago, the UK's publicly-funded Medical Research Council set up a new venture fund with a right of first refusal to all MRC-funded technology. Its British VC competitors greeted the newcomer, which claimed to want to fill a gap in seed-stage investing, coolly--they felt that no such gap existed and that UK Medical Ventures Fund would have an unfair advantage. Whether they're still jealous is uncertain, but they are doing deals with the new fund, which has significantly stepped up the rate at which MRC technology is transferred to the marketplace.

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As VCs continue to woo later-stage assets, a new breed of companies has stepped in upstream to help UK universities commercialize their IP. The models vary, and it's unclear how successful they'll be either for investors, or for universities. But the attention and money they're attracting to the area are welcome.

The IP Land Grab: New UK Tech Transfer Models

As VCs continue to woo later-stage assets, a new breed of companies has stepped in upstream to help UK universities commercialize their IP. The models vary, and it's unclear how successful they'll be either for investors, or for universities. But the attention and money they're attracting to the area are welcome.

Medical Research Council Technology

Britain's Medical Research Council has done a lot over the last decade to develop its technology transfer activities. Almost half of the 16 spin-off companies based on MRC research have appeared in the last two years. One important catalyst for this increase in spin-out activity was the founding in 1998 of a venture capital fund with priority access to companies based on MRC-owned technology, the UK Medical Ventures Fund/MVM Ltd. More recently, the creation of Medical Research Council Technology, bringing together three geographically distinct units involved in technology transfer, has led to a simpler, more efficient structure and better staff retention.

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