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09/06/2014

Swansea University and xénos partnership creates 18 spin-outs

Swansea University and xénos, the Wales Business Angel Network are celebrating the second anniversary of a pioneering joint initiative which is helping to create more new commercially viable businesses in the Swansea area.

The results over the last two years have been encouraging. Since spring 2012 nearly 50 ideas have been assessed leading to 18 spin-out companies being formed, 14 patents filed, 6 intellectual property licenses negotiated and over £1 million of further research and development funding leveraged.

The initiative brings the commercial expertise of xénos investors or ‘business angels’ together with the ideas and research of Swansea academics. By introducing xénos angels at a very early stage to evaluate business proposals, the University is able to identify and support work that has strong potential for commercialisation and the prospect of becoming high-growth companies.

Dr. Gerry Ronan, Head of Intellectual Property in the Department of Research and Innovation at Swansea University started the ‘Angel Clinic’ project in 2012 alongside Dr. Colin Lucas of xénos and business angel Peter Brooks of Ashgrove Management.

The clinic builds upon previous research conducted by the University of South Wales, supported by the Welsh Government and xénos, which led to pilot trials across a number of Welsh universities.

The impact of the scheme has been welcomed by the University, as Dr. Ronan explains:

“A detailed assessment of a commercial opportunity in its early stages by highly experienced and successful business professionals is invaluable to our academics and researchers. The input of such expertise has been a catalyst for a change in culture within the University and we have seen a tenfold increase in staff wishing to engage with the scheme.

“To have created 18 spin-outs in the last two years is a great achievement and the University has now established activities like market assessment, proof of concept, company formation, administration, financial management and investment readiness to create a clear path for research with commercial potential to follow. I consider it to be a great success and a credit to the xénos team.”

Dr. Lucas of xénos who helped develop the initiative and was also involved in earlier pilots of the project, said:

“Swansea University has shown a strong desire to provide real benefit, advice and support to its academic members of staff. Working together has allowed us to demonstrate the value that our angel network can bring to the commercial development of ideas and intellectual property, and to the creation of new businesses.

“There is no shortage of world-class ideas and research in Swansea. Many of them may well provide exciting investment opportunities in the near future for technology venture investors such as Finance Wales as well as our own xénos investor angels. We look forward to continuing to develop this valuable association.”

Commenting on the initiative, xénos Manager, David Maas said:

“Through its business angels xénos offers the combination of technical understanding and skills across sectors coupled with broad business and mentoring experience and it is encouraging to see Swansea University embracing this expertise to nurture the ideas and research that its academics produce.

“As an angel investment network, it is important for us to seek opportunities where strong commercial acumen can be combined with innovative ideas to give them the best chance of becoming high-growth Welsh businesses. xénos’ Angel Clinic has been successful in doing just that and we hope to build upon this by confirming similar strategic partnerships with more Welsh universities this year.”

xénos’ initiative with Swansea University joins a growing list of co-investment partnerships led by Finance Wales, including MoUs with Fusion IP for Swansea and Cardiff University and the recent MoU with Swansea University’s Institute of Life Sciences.