By Maximilian Clarke
Oxford Investment Opportunity Network (OION), Europe’s leading technology business angel network, is to participate in the Business Angel Co-investment Fund (Angel CoFund) announced by the government today that will provide £50 million to invest in high growth companies alongside business angels.
OION was established as one of Europe’s first business angel networks in 1994 and remains one of the few private sector angel networks in the country. Today, OION and two sister investment networks in the group, Thames Valley Investment Network and Oxford Early Investments, assist growing companies across the UK to secure crucial business development funding from £20,000 to £2 million.
The OION Network was one of five private sector partners who worked with Capital for Enterprise to develop the successful bid submitted to the Regional Growth Fund for the £50 million Angel CoFund.
The Angel CoFund will invest alongside business angel syndicates in growing companies. Its objectives are to boost the quality and quantity of business angel investing in England, and to support long-term, high quality jobs in high growth companies. The Angel CoFund will not be open to direct approaches from individual businesses who will be encouraged to put forward their investment propositions through business angel networks.
Chris Baker, head of investment services at the OION Network, said: “We are delighted that the Angel CoFund is now open for business. The scheme is partly modelled on a highly successful co-investment programme that OION operated with Bank of Scotland during 2008 and we know from experience that the availability of government capital to match funds committed by angel investors will significantly boost angel investment, enabling high quality companies to grow and create employment.
“We look forward to working with our partners and Capital for Enterprise to facilitate deals and ensure that the Angel CoFund is an outstanding success.”
During the past three years, OION has helped over 40 companies raise more than £27 million. They include:
Microvisk Technologies, the developer of the first reliable handheld device that patients on Warfarin can use to test their blood clotting status at home. Seven million people take Warfarin and over one million new patients start taking the drug each year. Currently, they must have weekly tests at a clinic to ensure they take the correct dose but the Microvisk device will enable patients to test their blood clotting ability at home. The device uses the world’s first diagnostic SmartStrip® based on a Micro-Electro-Mechanical System, which incorporates embedded sensors to measure blood coagulation from a drop of blood provided by a finger prick sample, with the results displayed on a handheld reader. Following patient trials, the company is preparing to launch its devices in Europe and the US during 2012.
Bladon Jets is developing micro gas turbine engines for cars and power generation. The company is working with Jaguar Land Rover on the development of a micro gas turbine engine to operate in a plug-in hybrid car. A Jaguar C-X75 super car incorporating two Bladon Jets micro gas turbines proved to be a star attraction at the Los Angeles Motor Show. Bladon Jets used the investment provided through OION as match funding against a Technology Strategy Board funding award for developing low carbon vehicle technology.
OrganOx, an Oxford University spin-out company, is developing a device for sustaining organs outside the body that will be used to prolong the preservation of livers before transplantation. There are over 30,000 patients on the liver transplant waiting list in Europe and the US with only 12,000 transplants each year. Around 20 per cent of patients die whilst awaiting transplantation and many donated livers have to be discarded as they are damaged by oxygen deprivation. The OrganOx technology will allow livers to be preserved for up to 24 hours, increasing the number of livers available for transplants.
OION and its two sister investment networks are managed by Oxford Innovation, a leading operator of coaching programmes and business and innovation centres for start-up and growing companies.
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