Mercia EIS Funds

MFM increases university support; invests in online academic and commercial collaboration platform, IN-PART

Mercia Fund Management (MFM), a leading technology investor with a focus on the Midlands, the North and Scotland, has made its first investment into IN-PART, which streamlines the discovery and commercialisation of innovative academic research.

The investment, which was made via MFM’s University Growth Fund, totals £300,000 and will allow IN-PART to build on its team to accelerate international expansion, implement new marketing initiatives, and continue product development, which will see new features added to the service.

Based in the Kroto Innovation Centre at the University of Sheffield, IN-PART provides a convenient solution for university technology transfer offices (TTOs) and businesses – from SMEs to blue chips – to find and collaborate with each other.

In November, the company beat more than 100 digital companies to be crowned as one of Tech North’s Northern Stars, a competition aimed at identifying the top ten digital start-ups in the North of England. The winning package will see the founders travel to the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, to showcase the IN-PART system.

Unlike other similar platforms, IN-PART is specifically for university research, which has traditionally struggled to communicate with businesses, due to the lack of simple communication channels between relevant, engaged parties. Previously, university business teams have relied on ‘cold-contact’ methods, without any prior information on who the most suitable person is to speak to within the target company.

IN-PART’s system provides a clear, concise and relevant catalogue of high-quality contacts, all of whom must work both in industry and R&D; in order to gain access to the platform. It allows companies to perform tailored searches for research that could be a potential asset to their business, whilst also helping universities and TTOs to display their current academic developments. The service also provides detailed metrics in ‘Impact Reports’, along with tailored support for universities subscribing to the system.

Since its launch in January 2014, IN-PART has gone from six universities and 25 companies to 50 universities and over 400 companies using the platform. IN-PART is now looking to expand its services to the USA, Asia and Australia, and has already identified key early adopters in each jurisdiction ahead of further internationalisation in 2016.

Investment Manager Brijesh Roy, who works with MFM’s Head of Technology Transfer to find and support university spinouts from both MFM’s partners and other institutions, said:

“I am pleased to provide IN-PART with its first early-stage investment from MFM. I have first-hand experience of the struggles faced by university technology transfer offices trying to make industry connections. IN-PART’s curated platform transforms this inefficient and resource intensive process, making it quick and simple for universities to connect to relevant companies. In less than two years, IN-PART has become a dominant portal to find technology from UK universities and the investment will accelerate the ongoing international expansion into the US, Europe and Asia.

“This investment also complements Mercia’s commitment to support the wealth of scalable technology that universities can provide, particularly in our focus regions of the Midlands, the North and Scotland.”

Patrick Speedie, Co-Founder of IN-PART, said:

“We’re extremely excited about moving into the next stage of IN-PART’s development as we look to add additional features for both university and company users, as well as expanding into new international markets, and Mercia Fund Management represents an ideal investment partner to help evolve our system. We’ve been very impressed by MFM’s knowledge of technology transfer and the difficulties surrounding university/industry collaboration, and we feel confident that they share our vision for connecting the sectors in a new and intuitive way. Together, we feel we can have an even greater impact on bringing university research to the wider world.”

The University Growth Fund was launched last year to support the commercialisation of university IP. For more information about our funds, please visit our website. http://www.merciafund.co.uk/investors/investors/