Trinity College Dublin and UCD have put their rivalry aside to collaborate on a new €60 million investment fund for high-potential start-ups.
Specialist Irish technology investor Atlantic Bridge, the European Investment Fund, AIB and Enterprise Ireland are among the other backers of the fund, which is centred on early-stage companies coming out of third-level research institutions in Ireland.
The aim of the University Bridge fund is to accelerate the commercialisation of ground-breaking research coming from institutions by providing capital and expertise for companies focused on software, hardware, engineering, physical sciences, life sciences and agri-food.
Atlantic Bridge, which will oversee the fund, is one of the largest technology funds in Europe, with offices in Dublin, London, Silicon Valley, Beijing and Hong Kong. It has led investment of more than €100 million in Irish firms since it was formed and has total assets under management of more than €400 million.
Among the Irish technology start-ups to have previously benefited from Atlantic Bridge backing are Swrve, Fieldaware, Glonav and PolarLake.
"Irish third-level institutions are generating cutting-edge research, which we believe has great potential to be commercialised into global companies of scale," said Gerry Maguire, general partner at Atlantic Bridge.
The fund marks the first time that Trinity College and UCD have come together to back early-stage companies.
Over the last 10 years, the universities have spun out over 60 companies that have secured in excess of €200 million. These include Genable, Opsona Therapeutics and Swrve from Trinity and Equinome, Logentries and OxyMem from UCD.
"Trinity and UCD are committed to achieving both economic and societal impact from our research excellence. This fund will be transformational in supporting our internationally leading research to become globally leading businesses – creating new jobs and enabling new innovative products," said Provost of Trinity Patrick Prendergast.
While the two universities are leading the new initiative, the fund is planning to back early-stage companies from all Irish third-level institutions. UCD president Andrew Deeks predicted Trinity- and UCD-founded start-ups would account for at least 50 per cent of companies availing of the investment fund.