Bank of Ireland University of Limerick Research Commercialisation Initiative

University of Limerick Foundation invests in new Venture Fund to support University spin-out companies. €32m in funding is now available to stimulate high potential start-up companies including research-based spin offs.

The University of Limerick Foundation along with Bank of Ireland and Enterprise Ireland have selected one of Ireland’s largest venture capital funds, Kernel Capital, to manage a €32m joint venture fund that will help Irish universities leverage commercial success from their transformational research ideas and intellectual property.

The €32m Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund supported by Enterprise Ireland and the University of Limerick Foundation will invest in start-up and early stage companies, with a focus on high potential university spin-offs and export-orientated start-up companies that operate in the technology (including green technology), food and financial services sectors.

Commenting on the launch of the new venture fund, President of the University of Limerick Professor Don Barry said “Investment in university-based research is even more critical in today’s uncertain economic climate as spin-out campus companies have the proven potential to make a significant contribution to the economy – providing new jobs, attracting foreign investment and providing new revenue bases to stimulate growth in the Irish economy.”

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David Cronin, CEO of the University of Limerick Foundation added, “a key challenge is translating research concepts into successful new products and services that will spark new growth and job-creation opportunities and the Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund will greatly facilitate this. We are proud to partner with our industry partners – Enterprise Ireland, Bank of Ireland and Kernel Capital – on this initiative which underscores the University of Limerick’s commitment to ensure that Ireland maintains its reputation as a world-class hub for transformational technology and scientific excellence.”

Established in 1989, the University of Limerick Foundation is the official fundraising body of the University of Limerick engaged in fundraising for the University from private individuals, institutions and business. Over 20 years, it has provided substantial investment funds to stimulate education, research and development initiatives that are important for the economic and social development of Ireland, and, in particular the Limerick region. These catalyst funds have increased considerably over time – by year ending 31 August 2008 the University of Limerick Foundation paid out €8.1m in research and development grants, a 271% increase on 2007.

Commenting at the launch, Niall Olden of Kernel Capital, managers of the fund said, “to succeed in the current climate, Ireland Plc needs to compete through its universities and colleges as well as through traditional businesses. The IP held in universities across Ireland is a viable asset that must be realised if we’re to retain our competitive edge as a nation and fuel new economic growth. The significance of this fund is that it addresses a gap in the market for €500,000 and below, providing enough capital and creative management expertise to incentivise universities to increase the economic impact of their research base.”

Richie Boucher, Group Chief Executive of the Bank of Ireland said, “university research commercialisation is a hugely promising area that has the potential to spur Ireland’s economic recovery and growth. This Fund demonstrates our commitment and support to early stage companies and campus spin offs with significant growth prospects.”

Those who wish to apply for funding from the Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund should download submission proposals from www.kernelcapital.ie

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About Kernel Capital

Kernel Capital is one of Ireland’s largest and most active venture capital funds. Established in 2002, the firm has a portfolio of investee companies across technology, life science and general industry. With total investment funds of €190m under management through Kernel Capital and its associate company, Seroba Kernel, to date the firm has targeted investment opportunities in the €100,000 to €5m range.

The Bank of Ireland funds have already invested in Irish technology companies that collectively have over 75 registered patents and employ almost 500 people. The partnership with University of Limerick Foundation is of major strategic significance for this new fund and it will play a significant role in the objective to accelerate the commercialisation of University generated research. A strong pipeline of opportunities already exist, a number of which may close shortly. The new fund is expected to be fully invested within three to four years. www.kernelcapital.ie

Enterprise Ireland’s Seed and Venture Capital Programme 2007-2012

Venture capital is an essential element of the eco-system for Irish indigenous industry, providing risk capital for companies that would have difficulty raising capital through traditional sources of finance. Under the 2007-2012 Seed and Venture Capital Programme, the Government through Enterprise Ireland is investing €175m, which will leverage an estimated investment of €1bn in start-up, early stage and development stage businesses. This scheme was announced in May 2006 and follows two previous similar programmes. Under the 1994-1999 Programme, Enterprise Ireland committed €43.9m, which leveraged a total €127m for investment. Under the 2000-2006 programme Enterprise Ireland committed €98m, which resulted in a total €408m for investment.