Financial support for UK entrepreneurs

Written by Sophie Breeze, Future Science Group

Two new sources of financial support for biotechnology entrepreneurs and start-up companies will help those struggling to find funding.

Rock Spring Ventures, a US based venture capital firm, will be investing in grass-roots biotechnology innovation in the UK with a new £50 million fund to back the growth of young life-science and health-technology companies. Based in Scotland, the fund hopes to address the lack of sector-specific funding for companies developing novel technologies and treatments for currently unmet needs in healthcare.

“Many of our local firms have strong business plans, ideas and investment potential. They need backers that are prepared to take that on and support them,” commented Paul Rooney, spokesperson and Chair of one of the initial investors in the scheme, the Strathclyde Pension Fund. “By investing in this sort of fund, we can make sure we are offering what businesses tell us they can’t get elsewhere‐and we can help them flourish in a difficult climate.” Other investors include the European Investment Fund, the Scottish Investment Bank and the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Another funding opportunity has also just launched. The OneStart business plan competition, a venture from SR One and the Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable, has recently opened to applicants in the UK and Europe.  Hopeful life-science entrepreneurs under the age of 35 will be competing to win a £100,000 cash prize, a one year membership to the UK BioIndustry Association and laboratory space at the Stevenage BioScience Catalyst.

Innovative individuals, or teams of up to four people, with cutting edge ideas for a business or product in drug discovery, diagnostics, medical devices or healthcare IT are being encouraged to apply. Entry is free, and participants can enter as many times as they want before the closing date of 21 February 2013 providing their ideas are novel and uncommercialized.  Semi-finalists can expect a unique opportunity to discuss how to raise capital, business planning and pitching techniques with investors, advisory firms and pharmaceutical industry leaders including representatives from GSK, Nature Biotech and Roche.

Opportunities such as these are essential for young companies and entrepreneurs, and are vital for ensuring that the UK will be able to remain at the forefront of biotechnological innovation, even in an unstable financial climate.

Sources: OneStart: The World’s Largest Life Science Idea Competition; £50M to support life sciences.