Home   Business   Article

Leading University of Cambridge scientists establish $100m investment fund to back 'young, hungry entrepreneurs'

By Paul Brackley

Sir Gregory Winter, master of Trinity College, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell
Sir Gregory Winter, master of Trinity College, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

Nobel Laureate Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, Trinity College master Sir Gregory Winter and Astrononomer Royal Lord Martin Rees among them

Sir Venki Ramakrishnan. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Sir Venki Ramakrishnan. Picture: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

Their combined inventions and technologies are valued today in excess of $100billion.

Now a group of the University of Cambridge’s leading entrepreneurs and scientists have launched a unique $100million fund to help build the next wave of billion-dollar companies, working at the intersection of deep tech and deep science to change the world for the better.

Nobel Laureate Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, Trinity College master and antibody pioneer Sir Gregory Winter, the head of the Cavendish Laboratory and CERN leader Professor Andy Parker and Astrononomer Royal Lord Martin Rees are among the founding and science partners of Ahren Limited Partners (LP).

Blue-chip institutions Aviva and Wittington Investments and iconic West and East Coast US family offices are among those to have committed $100 million to the fund, which will be focused on four areas: the brain and artificial intelligence, genetics and platform technologies, space and robotics, the planet and efficient energy technology.

The Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees. Pictures: Sir Cam
The Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees. Pictures: Sir Cam

Alice Newcombe-Ellis, founder and CEO of Ahren Innovation Capital LLP, which was launched in 2017, said: “We take a fundamentally different approach to investing to achieve the results our investee company founders and Limited Partners deserve. Bringing together some of the greatest – and commercially proven – minds in deep tech/deep science and world-class investment talent, we develop relationships of trust with our entrepreneurs, empowering them to create transformative businesses and generate tremendous value.

“We were in a privileged position to be able to raise a substantial sum of money swiftly given the unique nature of the opportunity. We were able to select both financial and strategic LPs that add value to Ahren and have the potential to give our portfolio companies access to billions of consumers globally.”

Sir Venki, of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology and president of the Royal Society, added: “When you empower entrepreneurial scientists and technologists to change the world, and build valued relationships of trust between them and investors, you can create immense business and societal value. At Ahren, we are taking a modern Silicon Valley-style approach to engaging with entrepreneurs and incentivizing them to succeed.”

Another founding science partner Professor Zoubin Ghahramani, head of Machine Learning Group at Cambridge University, and another of the founding science partners, said: “Ahren invests in transformative companies with bold vision seeking – sometimes to create – enormous markets for their products and services.

“We back young and hungry, highly motivated entrepreneurs that want to win big. We firmly believe that this strategy will generate the strongest returns for Ahren’s LPs.”

Also among the founding science partners are:

■ Prof John Daugman, head of the artificial intelligence group of Cambridge University, inventor of IRIS (eye) recognition technology used to register 1.5 billion citizens worldwide.

■ Prof Zoubin Ghahramani, a world leader in machine learning and co-founder of Geometric Intelligence, which was sold to Uber.

■ Prof Steve Jackson, founder/co-founder of three companies and originator of Olaparib/Lynparza, recently partnered by AstraZeneca with Merck and valued as an asset at up to $17billion.

Ahren LP’s advisory commttee is chaired by Robert Swannell, also chairman of UK Government Investments.

Ahren Innovation Capital, based at the Bradfield Centre on Cambridge Science Park, led a $30million Series C funding round for Cambridge Epigenetix in April.

Read more

Following the John Lewis model: More Cambridgeshire companies explore employee ownership

TusPark welcomed to Cambridge Science Park at topping-out of Bio-Innovation Centre

Patient capital delivers results


Iliffe Media does not moderate comments. Please click here for our house rules.

People who post abusive comments about other users or those featured in articles will be banned.

Thank you. Your comment has been received and will appear on the site shortly.


Terms of Comments

We do not actively moderate, monitor or edit contributions to the reader comments but we may intervene and take such action as we think necessary, please click here for our house rules.

If you have any concerns over the contents on our site, please either register those concerns using the report abuse button, contact us here.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More