OHM celebrates AIM float

University of Southampton technology spin-out Offshore Hydrocarbon Mapping Limited (OHM) has floated on London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) valuing the company at just under £50m.

OHM, a provider of remote electromagnetic sensing services designed to detect the presence of offshore oil and gas, raised £10m after expenses via a placing at a price of 170 pence per ordinary share. OHM’s market capitalization on admission was £49.3m.

OHM was set up in June 2002 with support from the Centre for Enterprise and Innovation (CEI) and from academic and external affairs at the Southhampton Oceanography Centre (SOC). Seedcorn investment was provided by specialist financier IP2IPO and through the SULIS University Challenge fund.

Sulis’ £9m seed fund, set up as part of the government’s university challenge fund initiative and managed by Quester has achieved a return of over ten times the cost of its investment and a return of around 20% of the entire fund. Quester currently manages around £24m in university-linked venture capital funds including two funds established under the government’s UCF initiative. Around 10% of the company’s funds under management are directly linked to the university sector.

Jamie Brooke, investment director at Quester and investment manager of Sulis, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for the company. OHM combines world class technology with talented management and is yet another example of the high quality companies deriving from UK universities. This transaction shows that the government’s university challenge fund can be an effective way of supporting the commercialization of innovative research. This realization demonstrates that our strategy of working closely with the university sector can produce excellent returns for our investors.”

Funding for activities from the CEI is part of the monies given to universities through the DTI’s enterprise funding, estimated to be around £350m since 1999. OHM’s current valuation is a full 14% of this total. Since the creation of OHM in 2002, the CEI has helped six further businesses to spin out, all from the life sciences and physical sciences arena. In the last six months spin-out companies from Southampton including two from the world-renowned Optoelectronics Research Centre have raised a further £20m in private funding.