UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund Expands Team To Drive Engineering Biology Investments

Fund Adds Life Science Commercialisation Expert Oliver Sexton to Investment Team and Renewables Entrepreneur Sean Sutcliffe Joins Advisory Board

London – 6 August 2014 –The UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund, a £24 million, early-stage venture capital fund dedicated to kick-starting promising UK technology companies, has appointed Oliver Sexton to its engineering biology investment team.  The Fund has also appointed to its advisory board Sean Sutcliffe, who currently is chief executive of renewable chemicals sector leader Green Biologics.

The UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund is an active technology investor and launched a dedicated engineering biology portfolio in November 2013 with £10M investment from BBSRC. The Fund will invest across the UK in tools, platform technologies and products in industries as diverse as healthcare, agriculture, low carbon and clean technologies, aiming to accelerate the uptake of engineering biology through the provision of funding and commercial expertise at a very early stage.

Synthetic biology uses engineering principles to improve natural products by combining rational design with our knowledge of how individual cells, animal organs and plants live. It offers exciting opportunities for new products to transform agricultural, food, healthcare and manufacturing industries. The cutting-edge discipline of engineering biology has recently been named by UK Government as one of “Eight Great Technologies” that support UK science strengths and business capabilities and in which Britain could be a world leader.

With both commercial and academic expertise, UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund investment manager Oliver Sexton will play a major role in identifying companies with great potential in the field of engineering biology and helping them to be successful.

Before joining Midven, Oliver managed investment and licensing of bioengineering technologies at Imperial Innovations where he was responsible for corporate deal structuring and partnering with major healthcare companies. Prior to that, he worked for UK biotech firm focused on gene medicines for cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Oliver was a post graduate researcher and holds a BSc in Molecular Biology/Biotechnology and an MSc in Plant Science.

The UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund also adds to its advisory board Sean Sutcliffe. Sean joined Green Biologics in 2008 and has since contributed extensive commercial and operational experience across the energy and renewables sector. Prior to joining Green Biologics, Sean was chief executive of Biofuels Corporation, a UK-based biodiesel producer, and also chairman of Tidal Generation Limited, a developer of tidal stream devices. Previously, Sean was executive vice president at BG Group, where he held a variety of roles spanning operations, business development and strategy. Sean is a chartered mechanical engineer with an engineering degree from Cambridge University.

Sean joins former science minister Ian Taylorwho was appointed as the UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund advisory board chair in February 2014.

Dr Andrew Muir, a director of Midven, said:  “The UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund has an excellent track record for creating an impact in many sectors such as materials, biotechnology, security and the environment. Oliver Sexton and Sean Sutcliffe will both play a key role in extending the Fund’s access to and investment in emerging companies in the field of engineering biology. It is an exciting time to be investing in engineering biology as we believe today’s academic projects may well be tomorrow’s billion pound companies.”

Oliver commented: “The field of engineering biology presents a fascinating cross-disciplinary opportunity to develop global products and companies. I’m excited by UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund’s capability to back ambitious, early-stage companies across the UK and look forward to working with teams in a range of industries linked by their use if engineering biology to revolutionise existing markets and establish new markets.”

Sean added:  “There is no doubt that engineering biology has the potential to generate significant new UK businesses. The UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund is an important vehicle to nurture the growth of these opportunities, building on the investment in the UK technology base from Government programmes. I look forward to advising on how this business building opportunity can be realised.”

The UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund, which is managed by venture capital firm Midven, invests in projects and companies which have arisen from the world-class research carried out in our partner laboratories across the UK are based at the campuses our partners support, or are working in the field of engineering biology. Our partners are the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC); Porton Down Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC); Natural Environment Research Council (NERC); Public Health England (PHE); The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA); The National Physical Laboratory (NPL); The James Hutton Institute; Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE); and Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA). Our partners’ campuses at Harwell, Babraham, Norwich and Daresbury campuses aim to deliver strong engagement and build a thriving and interactive community of world-leading scientists, technologists and innovators, with access to cutting-edge facilities and core scientific and technological strengths.

About UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund

The UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund is a £24m, early-stage venture capital fund dedicated to kick-starting promising technology companies developed at some of the UK’s largest publicly-funded research facilities, in the rapidly expanding science and technology campuses linked to them and in the field of engineering biology.

Created in 2002, the UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund is backed by 10 UK publicly-funded research organisations and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The Fund, whose portfolio comprises 31 companies, holds investments in some of the UK’s most innovative companies in areas as diverse as novel antibiotics, research into Alzheimer’s disease, “green” chemicals and airport security. The Fund’s impact in over the past decade has been recently validated by independent research showing the Fund has leveraged over £150 million of private investment from just £7 million of its own investment and helped create 172 high value technology-related jobs.

The UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund is managed by Midven,a leading venture capital firm investing in early-stage and established businesses. For more information, please visit or follow @Ra8inbowSeedFund on Twitter.