£1m fund to support growth of disruptive life science & technology companies
Two companies are the first to benefit from a £1m investment fund designed to nurture and grow exciting early-stage companies, launched by Discovery Park, one of the UK’s leading centres of life sciences innovation.
Discovery Park Ventures (DPV) is aimed at supporting the growth of disruptive technologies, with the initial £1m coming from private investors, with plans to grow the fund up to £25m in the next three years. Its focus is on enabling early-stage companies to grow and to help them leverage funding without giving up equity or ownership.
The first two recipients are ophthalmology company, VisusNano, based at Discovery Park, and London-based drug delivery start-up, Vitarka Therapeutics, with the companies receiving £100,000 and £140,000 respectively from DPV.
DPV is chaired by Discovery Park’s CEO, Mayer Schreiber, with Dr Martino Picardo and Emma Palmer Foster as Directors, who have many years of experience in life sciences company development and investment.
Mayer Schreiber, Chairman of DPV, said, “The fund will allow us to champion companies that have the potential to make breakthrough-discoveries in life sciences and technology and to scale rapidly.
“VisusNano and Vitarka Therapeutics are very exciting investments with which to launch Discovery Park Ventures. We’re looking forward to investing in many more innovative companies in the UK as the fund grows, helping to develop healthcare innovations and drive regional economic growth.”
VisusNano is developing a pipeline of intraocular lens implants (MEDILens), expected to revolutionise cataract surgery in both the human and veterinary markets and dramatically improve outcomes for patients. DPV’s investment provides support funding for the company’s £1.39m Innovate UK Biomedical Catalyst award to test the safety and efficacy of MEDILens in humans. It is part of VisusNano’s £1.5m Series A round for investment, which is expected to close shortly.
The second recipient is Vitarka Therapeutics, a preclinical biotech company focused on the development of combination medicines using RNAi therapies and a non-viral drug delivery platform, initially focused on cancer. This approach aims to activate the immune system and significantly change outcomes for late-stage patients with lung, colon, breast, and other cancers.
Commenting on the DPV investment, Dr Joanna Gould, CEO of VisusNano, said, “We’re delighted to welcome Discovery Park Ventures as a new investor as we enter this exciting clinical phase of development. As a Discovery Park tenant we have found the environment very supportive, and this investment is another way in which the Park is driving our growth.”
Dr Vineeta Tripathi, CEO of Vitarka Therapeutics, added, “We’d like to thank Discovery Park Ventures for its belief in our innovative approach to cancer treatment and therapeutic delivery, and welcome it as a shareholder. Vitarka Therapeutics looks forward to working with DPV as we generate our proof-of-concept data.”
The launch of DPV comes as the life sciences industry continues to be one of the highest profile global sectors with investment in UK biotech alone jumping 60% to £4.5bn in 2021, according to the BioIndustry Association. Discovery Park is a Life Sciences Opportunity Zone, enabling it to attract investment from national and international business linking research and business expertise.
For more information on DPV contact Emma Palmer Foster via [email protected]