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University of Auckland in $215 million investment deal for commercialisation

UniServices has signed a multi-million-dollar deal that will allow a significant increase in the number and quality of world class “disruptive” companies spun out of the university’s research and development.

It is part of an agreement that will see Auckland and the Group of Eight (Go8*) Australian universities together receive investment of “at least” NZ$215 million over 10 years to find and develop companies involved in “disruptive innovation” in areas such as digital medicine, new medical therapies and quantum computing.
IP Group plc (LSE: IPO), a leader in the commercialisation of scientific innovation developed in research universities in the United Kingdom and the United States, has entered into the landmark agreement through its subsidiary IP Group Australia.

The investment is being supported through a capital raising, which has seen the participation of new shareholders including Telstra Super, Temasek and M&G, as well as existing shareholders Invesco, Woodford and Lansdowne.

IP Group believes the nine universities represent “a significant source of world-class and potentially disruptive research”.

Andy Shenk, Chief Executive of UniServices, says the investment and its associated support fills a funding and skills gap that exists in New Zealand and will enable the team to bring many more ideas and research to market readiness and beyond.


The agreements with each university, for an initial 20-year term, seek to create and maintain a compelling pipeline of opportunities to be developed and supported into a diversified portfolio of robust businesses.

Alan Aubrey, Chief Executive of IP Group, says the agreement with the group of Go8 and the University of Auckland means the leading research universities in Australia and New Zealand will now have the financial backing required to help world-class research and innovation reach a global market.

“The business model we are using is similar to the model that we have used successfully in the UK and the US, which provides business-building expertise, capital, networks, recruitment and business support,” Mr Aubrey says. “We believe the model is ideally suited to the Australian and New Zealand markets and represents a significant commercial opportunity for all those involved.”

Will Charles, General Manager Technology Development at UniServices, says IP Group’s proven model of working patiently and constructively with universities will enable a significant increase in the level of support for University of Auckland staff and students developing technology and research into world class businesses based in New Zealand.

“We are also excited to be part of a larger research consortium which will drive unprecedented collaboration across the Tasman,” he says.

Each year UniServices works on some 1,200 projects with more than 300 New Zealand and global firms. In 2016 UniServices generated revenues of $114 million, executed more than 50 licences for intellectual property and created more than 11 businesses to commercialise university research.

Notable companies that have spun out of the University of Auckland include:

- HaloIPT which was acquired by Qualcomm in 2011 and is developing wireless power transfer for electric vehicles (https://www.qualcomm.com/solutions/automotive/wevc)
- Soul Machines, a company that is humanizing the interface between man and machines (soulmachines.com)
- Stretchsense, the world’s leading supplier of smart stretch sensors (stretchsense.com)
- Sapvax developing a novel chemistry platform for coupling immunogenic peptides to TLR2-agonist adjuvants to generate fully-synthetic, self-adjuvanting cancer vaccines (sapvaxllc.com)
- Energia Potior, transforming the future of aluminium smelting (energiapotior.com).

Go8 includes University of Adelaide, Australian National University, University of Melbourne, Monash University, UNSW Sydney, University of Queensland, University of Sydney, University of Western Australia.

About IP Group plc
IP Group is a leading intellectual property commercialisation company which focuses on evolving great ideas, mainly from its partner universities, into world-changing businesses. The Group has pioneered a unique approach to developing these ideas and the resulting businesses by providing access to business building expertise, capital (through its 100%-owned FCA-authorised subsidiary IP Capital), networks, recruitment and business support. IP Group has a strong track record of success and its portfolio comprises holdings in approximately 100 early-stage to mature businesses across four main sectors -- Biotech, Cleantech, Healthcare and Technology. The Company is listed on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange under the code (LSE: IPO). For more information, please visit our website at http://www.ipgroupplc.com/.

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