UK’s Cambridge Innovation Capital taps USD300 million for second deep-tech/life sciences VC fund

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Nick Evans writes that Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC) the UK-based venture capital investor focused on building world-leading deep-tech and life sciences businesses connected with the Cambridge science and innovation ecosystem, has raised GBP225 million (USD300 million) for its oversubscribed second fund.

CIC said the investor base in Fund II comprises a geographically diverse group of some 50 institutional and strategic investors, with almost half of the capital raised having come from UK-based investors including M&G and government-owned venture growth investment group British Patient Capital.

The VC firm was founded in 2013 to improve the success rate of innovative start-ups originating from the University of Cambridge and the broader Cambridge ecosystem, and to encourage more academics and entrepreneurs to build science-based businesses in the technology and healthcare sectors.

As a preferred investor for the University of Cambridge – whose endowment fund is one of CIC’s core founding co-investors – the group has unique access to investment opportunities in the ecosystem in and around Cambridge, which is often referred to as ‘the Cambridge Cluster’ or ‘Silicon Fen’.

Since its inception CIC has invested in around 40 companies and disruptive deep-tech and life sciences businesses in sectors including artificial intelligence, internet of things, quantum technologies, autonomous systems, therapeutics, medtech/diagnostics, digital health, and genomics/proteomics.

In addition to its portfolio companies, CIC has also set up two Cambridge-based business accelerators, DeepTech Labs and Start Codon – with the aim of supporting entrepreneurs to develop their commercialisation and technology strategy, bridging what the firm describes as “the gap between translational research and Series A-ready businesses”.

“With Fund II, CIC now manages in excess of £500 million, giving it the scale to support its portfolio companies throughout their life cycle, providing investment capital as well as strategic and operational support,” the firm said in a statement.

CIC said Fund II has already made six investments. These include Riverlane, a quantum computing software provider; Pretzel Therapeutics, a leading developer of mitochondrial therapeutics; Salience Labs, a photonic compute company; and Epitopea, a cancer immunotherapeutics company.

The portfolio companies in CIC’s first fund include CMR Surgical, a keyhole surgery innovator that closed the world’s largest medtech private financing round in 2021 at GBP425 million, valuing the company at over GBP2 billion; and electronics maker PragmatIC Semiconductor, which recently raised USD80 million to build its second manufacturing facility in the North of England. 

Andrew Williamson, Managing Partner of CIC, says: “Cambridge, UK is one of the fastest-growing science and technology innovation ecosystems in the world. Since our inception, CIC and our co-investors have invested more than £2 billion in sectors as diverse as robotics, semiconductors, genomics, gene therapy, therapeutics, liquid biopsy, artificial intelligence, and edge computing.”

He adds: “We are delighted to launch our new fund and to work with a dynamic group of entrepreneurs and investors to capture the full potential within the thriving Cambridge ecosystem.”

Labelling Cambridge as “Europe’s leading capital for innovation”, CIC’s website describes the Cambridge ecosystem as holding “one of the richest seams of scientific knowledge and technological innovation in the world”.

It adds: “With two universities, multiple leading research institutes, 109 Nobel Prize winners, and R&D departments of over 60 multinational businesses, Cambridge has generated 17 billion-dollar businesses, three of which have been valued at over USD10 billion.”

CIC says its success in finding world-class start-ups to back is underpinned by its unique relationship with Cambridge University and its close collaboration with the university’s commercialisation unit, Cambridge Enterprise.

“As a preferred investor for the University, we leverage our deep relationships to identify and fund visionaries to build global, category-leading companies.”
 

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