UKI2S (previously called the Rainbow Seed Fund) is a seed fund investing in the earliest, and highest risk, stages of technology companies emerging from the publicly funded science base. Created in 2002/03 with Government funding, the purpose of the Fund is to:

  • Make early-stage ‘patient’ capital investments in commercial companies (developing products based on publicly funded research)
  • Earn a financial return on investments, to be retained and re-invested (to keep the fund active)
  • Leverage private capital into ventures backed by UKI2S

The Fund’s core focus on the earliest and riskiest stages of “deep technology” companies means it takes risks private sector investors are rarely willing to tolerate. It has played a critical role in enabling the spin out of over 50 companies from laboratories such as the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, John Innes Centre and the Babraham Institute.

The Fund provides considerable support over and above its own investment, helping to shape the commercial proposition, find high-quality management and introduce later stage investors as the company grows.

UKI2S has invested at a steady rate and has now invested approximately £12.5M in 50 start-up companies and a further 39 early stage pump-priming investments of up to £50,000, in projects and companies from across a range of public sector sources.

UKI2S companies have built strong commercial relationships with over 150 companies ranging from consumer goods (Huawei, Google, Unilever, P&G) through to industrial (GE, Rolls Royce, WS Atkins), pharmaceutical (GSK, Eli Lilly, Takeda, Astellas) and other high value fields such as space and defence (ESA, Thales etc), with many of these relationships also involving the parent research organisation. The sale of Cobalt Light Systems to Agilent in 2017, which resulted in Agilent locating their global technology centre for Raman Spectroscopy at Harwell.

The Fund’s reach extends across the UK; the core partners are STFC, BBSRC, NERC and Dstl but relationships extend from Aberdeen (James Hutton Institute), through Norwich Research Park and Cambridge, to Southampton (National Oceanography Centre) and Plymouth (Plymouth Marine Laboratories) and extend more widely than UKRI alone (Dstl, National Nuclear Laboratory, Animal and Plant Health Laboratory, Public Health England).

Our investments have resulted in a continuing economic impact along with wider benefits which can also be seen in some case studies.


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