BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - A £4 million (US$5.9 million) fund has been launched with government backing to form start-ups around research from six of the leading centers of biomedical research in London.

The Bloomsbury BioSeed Fund (BBSF), with £3 million of government money, is intended to provide early stage financing to companies that are not advanced enough to attract venture capital.

Fund manager Stephane Mery told BioWorld International, "This is seed money to get companies to the point where venture capitalists want to come in. We will finance the process of starting the process, for example paying for consultants to assess the intellectual property, but we will expect the founders to write a business plan so we can make sure the business makes sense before we invest."

Each start-up will receive £250,000, which Mery said would last between six and 18 months. He will be a director of all the companies and help them find follow-on funding.

BBSF has made its first investment in Xcellsyz Ltd., a clinical genomics company working in diabetes and other metabolic disorders, and Mery said he is reviewing 10 more proposals.

The £3 million of government money came from the University Challenge Fund, which aims to bridge the gap between publicly funded research and the commercial sector. The remaining £1 million came from the six institutions in the BBSF consortium: University College London, The Cancer Research Campaign, Imperial Cancer Research Fund, Institute of Cancer Research, The School of Pharmacy and the Royal Veterinary College.

BBSF will invest only in research from these institutions. The aim is to become self-financing, recycling profits to fund future start-ups.