Coller buys into BT’s Brightstar

Secondaries specialist Coller Capital has created an independent corporate venturing partnership with BT’s research and technology business, BTexact Technologies. New Venture Partners, the team formed when Coller backed the spin-out of Lucent’s New Ventures Group, will manage the investment decisions of the partnership, to be known as NVP Brightstar. BT will retain a 23 per cent interest in the business.

Through the deal, worth approximately $100 million, NVP Brightstar will buy the existing portfolio of five companies developed by BTexact’s corporate incubator, Brightstar. The incubator unit was launched in 2000 and provided seed funding for internal start-ups, spinning out nine companies that raised a total of $55 million in venture capital funding. BT retains its stake in the companies already spun-out of Brightstar.

NVP Brightstar will also have exclusive rights to create new start-up businesses using BT’s intellectual property portfolio. The $100 million capital available through the deal is divided into two funds of undisclosed size, one to focus on the continued funding of the existing portfolio and the other to fund new projects. The business plans to announce partnerships to develop the IP of other corporates.

NVP Brightstar will continue to be based in Adastral Park in Ipswich, UK. Building on past co-operation with Steve Socolof of Lucent’s New Ventures Group, Harry Berry, the creative leader at Brightstar, will join NVP Brightstar as a managing partner. The portfolio will include a.p.solve, a provider of intelligent fieldforce management solutions, Azure, a telecoms revenue specialist, Evolved Networks, a provider of software that automates telecoms network design and provisioning and Microwave Photonics, a developer of enabling technology for enterprise wireless LANs and mobile cellular infrastructure. The five portfolio companies generated revenues of £31 million last year.

Since last year BT has been pursuing a strategy to increase value from its IP, a goal NVP Brightstar should help BT to realise. The new partnership compliments the IP commercialisation programme BT already has with US-based IPVALUE. “BT’s objective is to gain maximum value from continuing investment and innovation in research and technology development,” said Stewart Davies, chief executive of BTexact Technologies. BT’s other corporate venturing activities include its Enterprise Venturing unit, led by Mike Carr.