Who's got the cash?

February 4, 2005

An Oxford University spin-off has secured proof-of-concept funding from a US-based investor. Surface Therapeutics is celebrating first-round funding of £1.5 million - enough, it hopes, to prove that its patents have industrial applications.

The company is founded on 20 years of research by William Cookson's laboratory at Oxford's Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genomics. The researchers looked at genes regulating asthma and eczema and the role of the skin surface.

The aim is to develop innovative therapeutic drugs. The company has a portfolio of patents that will be key to its success.

The funding has come from East Hill Management, a US investor whose portfolio consists almost exclusively of spin-offs from British universities.

Surface Therapeutics will not rely solely on external investment. It hopes to generate a commercial revenue stream by issuing diagnostics patents.

Licensing its novel technologies would provide more funds to plough into research and development.

Over the next year, Professor Cookson and co-founder Miriam Moffat will move their research to Imperial College London, which will become a stakeholder in the spin-off.

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