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Scientists, Investors Form $100M+ Tech Venture Fund

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(PXHere.com)

5 September 2018. A group of entrepreneurs and leading scientists in the U.K. unveiled a venture investment fund that plans to back start-up companies developing a wide range of ground-breaking technologies. The fund, established and managed by Ahren Innovation Capital in London, collected more than $100 million for investments in what the company calls “the intersection of deep tech and deep science.”

In a company statement, Ahren Innovation Capital says the new fund will invest in companies that intend to “create the future” and change the world for the better in four technology fields: the brain and artificial intelligence, genetics platforms, space and robotics, and efficient energy and environmental technologies.

Ahren was founded last year by entrepreneurs and scientists at University of Cambridge, and recruited more researchers from that campus as partners. The company’s founding scientists are Venki Ramaskrishnan, president of the Royal Society and winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2009, and Zoubin Ghahramani, professor of engineering at Cambridge at head of the university’s machine learning lab. Other Cambridge scientists taking part in the fund include:

Shankar Balasubramanian, professor of biochemistry studying nucleic acids, the basis of genomics

John Daugman, computer scientist conducting research on mathematics, computer vision, and pattern recognition

Steve Jackson, biologist studying physiological processes that maintain genome and cellular integrity, as well as founder of 3 companies

Andy Parker, professor of high energy physics and founder of the Atlas experiment for the Large Hadron Collider

Martin Rees, astrophysicist and former Royal Society president, studying black hole formation and extragalactic radio sources

Gregory Winter, molecular biologist researching protein and genetic engineering, and also a founder of 3 companies

Bringing scientists together with entrepreneurs, says Ahren, aims to develop an approach similar to Silicon Valley that provides incentives for researchers to succeed. “When you empower entrepreneurial scientists and technologists to change the world,” notes Ramaskrishnan, “and build valued relationships of trust between them and investors, you can create immense business and societal value.” Ghahramani adds, “We back young and hungry, highly motivated entrepreneurs that want to win big.”

Initial financing for the fund is provided by technology investor Aviva Ventures and Wittington Investments, a general investment holding company, both based in London. Alice Newcombe-Ellis, founder & CEO of Ahren says, “We were in a privileged position to be able to raise a substantial sum of money swiftly given the unique nature of the opportunity.”

Ahren Innovation Capital made its first investment in April 2018, $30 million with Cambridge Epigenetix, a company started in 2012 developing diagnostics from simple blood and tissue samples. Cambridge Epigenetix was founded by Shankar Balasubramanian, an Ahren scientific partner, applying epigenetics to diagnostics of cancer and other diseases. The Ahren investment was the company’s third venture financing round.

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