York University has become the latest partner of private intellectual property company IP2IPO in a deal worth more than £2 million to the institution.
The university's Centre for Novel Agricultural Products has signed a 25-year agreement that will see IP2IPO investing at least £2 million to set up a commercialisation company and to fund the first three years of activity.
The deal was finalised in September, just weeks before IP2IPO floated for more than £47 million on the Alternative Investment Market, a branch of the Stock Exchange dedicated to new companies.
IP2IPO was created in 2000 as a spin-off from investment bank Beeson Gregory. The bank had invested £20 million in a new chemistry building at Oxford University in exchange for a 50 per cent share of all equity in intellectual property generated by the department for 15 years.
IP2IPO has since taken over the contract from Beeson Gregory.
The nine-person company works in life and physical sciences, investing in early-stage research exploitation in exchange for a share of their university partners' equity in any spin-off company or licensing deal. It works alongside university technology-transfer offices providing expert help in areas such as protecting patents.
The long-term nature of the four partnerships the company has so far established - it agreed funding for 25 years with King's College London this year and Southampton University in 2002 - differentiate it from venture capitalists and seedcorn funders, and allows any spin-off to look for other sources of funding as well.
Spike Willcocks of IP2IPO said: "We felt universities in this country, apart from a few growing successes, were not that strong in commercial IP.
Lots of them were allowing their academics to publish rather than patenting."