17 June 2016

Atlantic Bridge announces €60m fund to invest in companies emerging from third level research

Atlantic Bridge announces €60m fund to invest in companies emerging from third level research
  • Investors include European Investment Fund and Enterprise Ireland, along with AIB, Bank of Ireland and the two universities
  • Fund is significant boost for innovators seeking to develop third level research into successful businesses – says Minister

Friday June 17 2016: Atlantic Bridge, one of Europe’s top performing growth technology funds, has today announced a new €60 million investment fund for early stage companies with global potential that are built from world class research from all Irish third-level institutions and universities.

Leveraging the Atlantic Bridge global investment platform and proven ‘Bridge Model’ for scaling technology companies, the Fund will accelerate the commercialisation of ground breaking research generated at Trinity College Dublin (Trinity), University College Dublin (UCD) and all third level research institutions.

The Fund, which will provide capital and expertise for scaling companies into the US and Chinese markets and elsewhere, was initiated in a joint leadership collaboration between UCD and Trinity.

The €60 million now in place will provide investment and expertise at the commercialisation stage for companies focusing on software, hardware, engineering, physical sciences, life sciences and agri-food.

This Fund brings together significant institutional investment from the European Investment Fund – its first cornerstone commitment in an Irish fund of this type having made similar investments in Europe - and Enterprise Ireland, as well AIB and Bank of Ireland, who are already strong supporters of UCD, Trinity and the Irish technology ecosystem. Trinity and UCD have also invested in the fund.

Irish companies that have benefited from the ‘Bridge Model’ for scaling-up technology companies include Movidius, Swrve, Fieldaware, Glonav and PolarLake.

The Fund will enhance success at UCD and Trinity - both ranked in the Top 1% of higher education institutes world-wide - in creating spin-outs and start-ups. The universities are also ranked in the Top 5 of European Universities for producing graduate entrepreneurs. Over the last 10 years they have jointly spun-out over 60 companies, which have secured in excess of €200 million in investment, such as Equinome, Logentries and OxyMem from UCD and Genable, Opsona Therapeutics and Swrve from Trinity.

Enterprise Ireland is investing in the Fund from its Seed & Venture Capital Scheme (2013-2018),supporting its key strategic aim of commercialising Irish third level research into globally scalable businesses which will create high quality jobs, stimulate exports and attract international investment. This significant investment represents its continued commitment to increasing the availability of risk capital for SMEs and ensuring there is a vibrant ecosystem of funding available in the Irish market for all startups.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD said: “Innovation is a key pillar of Enterprise 2025 and I am delighted that this new University Bridge Fund has been launched. This additional investment in the third level sector will provide the support for more researchers to develop viable new businesses and spin outs from the sector.”

Said General Partner at Atlantic Bridge, Gerry Maguire: “Irish third level institutions are generating cutting edge research, which we believe has great potential to be commercialised into global companies of scale. Atlantic Bridge will bring world class investment processes, scaling expertise and an international platform to generate strong commercial returns for investors.”

Said Head of Technology Transfer & IP Investments of European Investment Fund, Piyush Unalkat: “Ireland is privileged to have more top 100 innovative universities per capita than any other country in Europe, with both Trinity and UCD forming part of this elite pool. EIF is convinced that Irish research organisations have the potential to generate significant global impact with this fund acting as a catalyst for the commercialisation of their research.”

Said Provost of Trinity, Professor Patrick Prendergast: “Trinity and UCD are committed to achieving both economic and societal impact from our research excellence. This fund will be transformational in supporting our internationally leading research to become globally leading businesses – creating new jobs and enabling new innovative products.”

Said President of UCD, Professor Andrew Deeks: “The strong track record, scale and professional supports of UCD and Trinity prompted us to seek out the creation of this fund in the first place. We expect the pipeline of UCD and Trinity companies to account for at least 50% of the investment fund. We are both ambitious and confident that the University Bridge Fund will generate excellent commercial outcomes that will encourage more researchers to become entrepreneurs.”

Said Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland, “A key role of Enterprise Ireland is to support innovation and the commercialisation of research into business. We are delighted to be an investor in the University Bridge Fund which is open to all third level institutions and will help develop more entrepreneurs, companies and jobs, from the research community.”

To find out more visit the University Bridge Fund website 

About AIB

AIB’s commitment to the University Bridge Fund reflects our continued support to seed funding to SMEs and to the university sector in Ireland. AIB is a significant provider of seed, venture and growth capital funding to the Irish SME’s market with commitments currently totalling €130m to ten funds. These funds have a combined fund size of €646m, a large part of which is providing equity finance to Irish SMEs with high growth potential across all sectors including Technology, Fintech and Life Sciences. Since their creation, these funds have invested in c.150 companies which has helped create an estimated c.2,300 Irish jobs.


About Bank of Ireland

Bank of Ireland is the largest lender to the Irish economy, providing over 50% of new SME lending, and is a key partner in the University Bridge Fund. Bank of Ireland plays an active role in accelerating entrepreneurship and innovation through funding, facilities and mentoring for startups and emerging businesses. The Bank is also the exclusive partner to a number of colleges across Ireland, supporting them through student and alumni initiatives, enterprise programmes and financial services.


About Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland is the Irish government agency responsible for the development and growth of Irish companies internationally in order to grow exports and jobs. Enterprise Ireland works with entrepreneurs and businesses to help them to start-up, develop innovative products and services, and scale internationally. Enterprise Ireland facilitates access to international markets through its international office network, supports business strategy & management capability training and provides finance, investment and research expertise.


About European Investment Fund

EIF is a leading financial institution in the European Private Equity market. Through its venture capital and private equity interventions, it plays a crucial role in the creation and development of high-growth and innovative SMEs by facilitating access to equity for these companies across the entire life cycle of corporate innovation. It does so by investing in venture and growth capital, from the very earliest stages of intellectual property development into technology transfer, to more mature phases of development. In supporting both well-known and first time teams, EIF has built a strong track record in the industry. Through this reputation, while maintaining a highly selective process, EIF takes significant minority stakes in funds which provide a catalytic effect on commitments from a wide range of investors, particularly in the private sector. The scale and scope of EIF’s investments, along with its added value on fundraising, allows EIF to promote best market practice and corporate governance for teams it chooses to support. EIF's equity activity is principally backed by resources from its main shareholders, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Commission.


About Trinity College Dublin

Reuters published a list of innovative universities earlier this week which placed Trinity College Dublin as Ireland’s most innovative university. The newswire added that Trinity is notable for holding a higher percentage of cited patents in its portfolio than any other university in Europe’s top 100. There were 91 patents flied between 2008 and 2013 with 20.9% granted. The authors of the report said Trinity’s research portfolio has reached a value of more than €520m and the university brought in €95m in new research funding last year.


About University College Dublin

Established in 1854, University College Dublin (UCD) is Ireland’s largestuniversity with over 30,000 students from some 120 countries worldwide.Founded on the educational principles of its first Rector, John Henry Newman, the university seeks to contribute to the economy and society through the excellence and impact of its research, innovation and scholarship, the quality of its graduates and through its engagement nationally and internationally.