New initiative to promote UK technology start-ups

UK minister for industry, John Battle (left), with Progeny's Andrew Newland.

Progeny BioVentures (Guilford, UK), a new firm created in March, aims to raise £110 million (US$176M) and start up 40 biotechnology firms over the next 10 years. Managing Director Andrew Newland plans to assemble management teams around UK university technologies that have been selected for commercial potential. He hopes the business plans formulated will attract early-stage venture capital. Progeny has £600,000 of its own funds. But to kick-start the scheme, the UK Department of Trade and Industry has put up £400,000, with the proviso of seeing 10 new biotechnology firms and £3.2 million venture capital within three years. Several venture capital firms are already backing the scheme and, according to Newland, the weight of interest—from, among others, Rothschild Asset Management (London)—helped clinch the DTI award. Progeny "is the first proactive group to set up [biotechnology] firms" in the UK and is distinctly different from and more effective than biotechnology incubators, which supply laboratory space and some business guidance only, he says.

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Michael, A. New initiative to promote UK technology start-ups. Nat Biotechnol 17, 315 (1999).

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