Specialist technology investor Atlantic Bridge has announced a €80 million investment fund for high-potential start-ups emerging from Irish universities.
Enterprise Ireland has contributed €20 million to the fund with the aim of supporting the creation of more than 1,000 jobs over the next five years through the commercialisation of third-level research.
University Bridge Fund II is the result of a partnership between Atlantic Bridge and three Irish universities – Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and University College Cork. Its primary purpose is to globally scale companies that spin out of universities.
The fund will focus on investing in technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, quantum and health tech, addressing areas of global concern like energy efficiency, climate, carbon reduction and healthcare.
It follows on the path of a previous fund announced in 2016 which has invested in more than 30 companies that, combined, raised over €220 million in co-investment to date. Among these are Neurent Medical, Siren.io, CroiValve, drone delivery company Manna, and the State's first quantum computing company, Equal1.
The inaugural fund has been ranked among the most successful collaborative funds of its type globally in a list that also includes research coming out of Cambridge, Oxford, Stanford and Harvard.
In addition to Enterprise Ireland and the three universities, the European Investment Fund and AIB have also committed to the new fund.
Atlantic Bridge is a €1 billion pan-European technology growth firm founded in 2004 by successful technology entrepreneurs and executives that include Dubliner Brian Long who previously co-founded Parthus, an Irish semiconductor company that went public on the Nasdaq in 2000. The firm has an impressive track record in scaling several of the State's largest technology companies including Decawave, which was acquired by Apple supplier Qorvo in a $400 million deal last year, and Movidius, which was bought by chipmaker Intel for a similar price in 2016.
The latest fund brings the total amount of capital under management by Atlantic Bridge to more than €1 billion across eight funds.
"We have become the premier fund for investing in companies that are coming out of research or who want to collaborate with that base in Ireland. Given this, our investors were all keen to back the new fund, which we will expect will back a similar number of companies but with an even bigger focus on those that are working on innovative technologies that can help address some of the big global challenges," said Dr Helen Breen, a partner at Atlantic Bridge.
“There is a really significant pipeline of opportunities and some fantastic innovators who will gain from our support and hopefully go on to create enormously successful companies,” she added.
The new fund is available to companies spinning out of all of the State’s third-level institutions, not just the ones that have partnered for the initiative. It is also open to companies that wish to “spin in” to universities to access research and innovation.
Minister of State for Business Damien English welcomed the new fund.
“By prioritising innovation today, this fund will help more researchers to get viable new businesses off the ground, stimulating the creation of high-quality jobs across the country and shaping the future economy,” he said.