The gap between a good idea with commercial potential, and gaining serious venture capital investment to take it forward, is being successfully filled by a pioneering scheme developed by the Cambridge University Challenge Fund.
'Pathfinder' investments prove their value
The Fund, established to help university spin-outs, has used its first year of operation to test the concept of 'Pathfinder' investment: relatively small sums in the region of 10,000 are put into fledgling companies which have a business plan but no independent evidence of its viability.
'This initial sum is intended to be used for investigation rather than development - for example, reviewing intellectual property rights or studying manufacturing possibilities,' explains Fund Manager Bill Matthews.
'As such, we ask only for a simple agreement rather than requiring the lengthier negotiations which generally precede full funding.
'Of course, it is possible to borrow a sum such as this from a bank or take it as investment from a business angel, but such arrangements may have strings attached which make the next round of funding more complicated,' he adds.
'Our approach has been designed to avoid this, so making quicker progress to market possible.'
Over the last year, Pathfinder funding has been applied to market and production testing for pharmaceuticals and medical devices as well as ideas related to electronics and metals. Having been able to gain an objective view of their prospects, several of these companies have now taken much more substantial funding and moved to the next stage of development.
Any business which wishes to move forward with an innovation, and which has the involvement of a past or current member of Cambridge University, may be eligible for Pathfinder funding; contact Bill Matthews on 01223 766935 for further information.
Further information: Bill Matthews/Geraldine Rodgers/Nick Slaymaker, Cambridge University Challenge Fund.
Tel: 01223 766935
Press enquiries: Jane Heeney/Jenny Kartupelis, Elements PR, St John's Innovation Centre, Cowley Road, Cambridge, CB4 0WS.
Tel:01223 421605 Email:email@example.com
The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, is also the President of the Cambridge Network.