Milltrust International, an award-winning investment group, has highlighted the commercial potential of spinout companies from the UK’s leading universities at its Science & Technology Day in London.
The event saw more than 80 investors come together to hear entrepreneurs, scientists, venture capitalists and representatives from university incubators discuss the trends and opportunities in the fast-growing sector.
Research published by Beauhurst suggests that equity investment into UK university spinouts, based on publicly available data, more than tripled from GBP309.4 million in 2013 to GBP1 billion in 2017.
Mobile blood tests, ultra-low-cost flexible circuits thinner than a human hair, and the role of major corporates, including Arm Holdings and Avery Dennison, in backing technology ventures were among the topics discussed.
Milltrust International hosted the event last week to reflect its role in the sector via its British Innovation Fund. This invests in university spinouts directly and via university commercialisation companies.
Simon Hopkins, CEO of Milltrust International, says: “The breadth and scale of innovation now emerging from Britain’s universities in commercial companies is remarkable. Furthermore, the investment landscape is changing. What was an investment area limited to a rarefied group of investors is now emerging as an attractive opportunity for a wider audience, from high-net-worth individuals and family offices to institutions.”
These Emerging Markets Could Soar If the Dollar Falls
Last year was admittedly a tough one for emerging markets. A number of currencies were under considerable pressure, with some of them falling to record or near-record lows against the strong U.S. dollar. Global trade tensions, threats of sanctions, rising U.S. interest rates and higher oil prices—before they began to crater in October, that is—also contributed to the selloff. From its 52-week high set in January 2018, the MSCI Emerging Markets Index sunk into bear market territory by the end of October. But since then the investment case for emerging markets has vastly improved, and global investors are betting big that the U.S. dollar will ease on less aggressive monetary tightening. This would relieve some of the pressure on emerging economies that must pay higher prices on imports from the U.S. when the dollar is strong.
Increasing Water Risks Threaten to Strand Substantial Assets of Indian Banks
With India continuing to face severe pressure on its water resources, a new WWF report published outlines the increasing water risks for businesses that could lead to significant losses for the country’s banks. In particular, it shows how water risks could lead to stranded assets in the power and agriculture sectors – two sectors that account for the highest gross credit exposure of Indian banks. The report reveals that close to 40% of the gross credit exposure of Indian banks is in sectors where water risks are significant. Reeling under a crisis of non-performing loans with close to 10% of gross-advances of the Indian banks facing a risk of non-payment from debtors, these risks can place further liquidity constraints on the already stressed balance sheets of banks in India.
Can we ditch intensive farming – and still feed the world?
Food production around the world must rise by half in the next 30 years to sustain a global population expected to top 10 billion by 2050.
Compared with 2010, an extra 7,400tn calories will be needed a year in 2050. If food production increases along current lines, that would require a landmass twice the area of India. Bringing more land under agricultural production is one answer to filling this gap, but it cannot solve the problem alone. Finding that amount of land in suitable conditions would spell the end for many of the earth’s remaining forests, peatlands and wild areas, and release the carbon stored in them, hastening climate change. Intensive farming has already had a huge effect on biodiversity and the environment worldwide. Pesticides, which have helped boost cereal and fruit production, have also killed bees and myriad species of insects in large numbers. So what are the other answers? The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, the world’s leading body charged with care of our future food supply, has called this year for “transformative change in our food systems”.
The GM chickens that lay eggs with anti-cancer drugs
Researchers at Roslin Technologies, a key investment of Milltrust’s British Innovation Fund, have genetically modified chickens that can lay eggs that contain drugs for arthritis and some cancers. The drugs are 100 times cheaper to produce when laid than when manufactured in factories. The researchers believe that in time production can be scaled up to produce medicines in commercial quantities.