Dr Richard Thompson knows a thing or two about spinouts and
technology businesses, having spent much of his international
career working with them.
After returning to Wales he first helped Welsh Universities with
spinouts and start-ups before establishing himself as a technology
investor with leading UK SME investor, Finance Wales. Part of
Finance Wales’ technology team, he’s actively investing in
technology-based companies including spinouts.
Raising early stage equity investment isn’t easy and it’s become
harder recently, but Finance Wales has capital available and
invests in first and follow-on rounds. “Our appetite for investment
is high, as is the quality of opportunities on offer.
Having launched its £150 million fund in 2009, Finance Wales is rapidly becoming one of the UK’s most active early stage investors and in 2009-10 made 30 early stage investments, 14 of which were co-investments.
Dr Richard Thompson
Increasingly, Dr Thompson is talking to technology businesses and
spinouts from outside Wales. “These small companies approach us;
they are mobile and are prepared to relocate to secure investment.
In the past, companies would move to Wales to secure grants or for
the incubator facilities. Now we’re finding they’re seeking VC
investment and we ‘signpost’ them to what else is on
Challenges for spinouts
Having capital to invest at an early stage, and an appetite to
follow its investments, Finance Wales makes a refreshing change, Dr
Thompson believes. “We have over 10 years’ experience of working
with spinouts, we invest as early as just about any other VC I
know; we can follow our money and we’re proactive in finding
Dr Thompson knows the challenges technology businesses and spinouts
face and experience tells him that securing long-term exit-focused
investment is the key. “Proving their technology is just the start.
There are management teams to help build, markets to develop and
sales to be achieved, but these challenges can be overcome with
exit-focussed investment,” he explains.
In particular spinouts not only need investment capital, they need
time, focus and the support of a strong investor to give them the
best chance of success and to attract co-investors. For Dr
Thompson, Q-Chip, the Cardiff-based biopharma company chaired by
Ken Powell, founder of Arrow Therapeutics, is a good example.
"Q-Chip has so far secured £8.5 million from Finance Wales,
Disruptive Capital, and a high profile angel syndicate including
British venture capitalist, Jon Moulton. Q-chip is one of a number
of Cardiff University spinouts Finance Wales has invested in with
Finance Wales’ early stage team is well networked with the higher education sector and examples of our many related investments include Glamorgan University spinout, GeoVs, as well as Calon Cardio and Haemair which are both based at Swansea University’s Institute of Life Science.
Dr Richard Thompson
Now, with some exciting portfolio companies under his belt, money
to invest and to follow his investments, Dr Thompson is keen to
meet even more technology-based companies.
See Finance Wales' latest early stage
This article first appeared in Spinout UK's Quarterly Journal