Early-stage tech fund handed #3m boost

The Lachesis Fund, a seed fund investing in early stage technologies in the East Midlands in the UK, has received £3m from the East Midlands Development Agency (emda).

The now £7m fund is a partnership between the universities of De Montfort, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Nottingham Trent, and VC company Quester.

The fund invests in two types of project. There are 21 pathfinder projects where the money invested is used to conduct initial market scoping and commercial scoping. There are also seven spin-out companies. Of the total number, around half are in the life sciences, with the remaining in software, IT and chemicals

The fund aims to have contributed to the emergence of around 50 companies by 2010 in the East Midlands helping to generate businesses from the science and technology capabilities of its universities.

The Lachesis Fund was created in June 2002 under the UK Government’s University Challenge initiative, which awarded £3m to the venture, with a further £200,000 contributed from each of the five university partners.

The fund approached emda when it realised that the initial size of £4m was too small. “As the maximum we can invest in any one project is £250,000, it meant we could only get involved in around 16 projects. This meant we couldn’t diversify enough,” said Dr Jonathan Gee, investment director at Quester.

London-based Quester manages a total of three UK University Challenge Seed Funds. As well as Lachesis, it manages the Isis College Fund on behalf of Oxford University, and the Sulis Seedcorn Fund for Bath, Bristol and Southampton universities.