BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - IP2IPO Group plc, an intellectual property business, raised £30 million (US$49.8 million) after expenses in a flotation on London's Alternative Investment Market.

That is £5 million more than the company was seeking, and the offering raised hopes that investors are getting interested in technology again. IP2IPO will have a market capitalization of £111.7 million when dealing in shares start today.

IP2IPO, which stands for Intellectual Property to Initial Public Offering, has established partnerships with several UK universities, giving it access to intellectual property in return for seed funding and management expertise for start-ups. It has interests in more than a dozen companies, most of them in the biotechnology sector.

Oxford-based IP2IPO was set up two years ago by the stockbroker firm Beeson Gregory to manage a partnership with Oxford University's chemistry department. Beeson Gregory was subsequently acquired by the investment bank Evolution Group plc, which will own 40.6 percent of IP2IPO after the flotation.

Apart from Oxford, the company currently has partnerships with the universities of Southampton and York, and King's College London.

Under the terms of the deal with Oxford, IP2IPO gets 50 percent of the university's share in the equity of spinouts and 50 percent of any income from licensing intellectual property from the chemistry department. To date it has interests in: Inhibox Ltd., a computational drug discovery company; Pharminox Ltd., which is developing new platinum-based chemotherapeutics; Zyentia Ltd., a specialist in using protein-folding technologies in drug discovery; Glycoform Ltd., a carbohydrate chemistry and therapeutics company, VASTox Ltd., a screen-to-gene discovery services company; and ReOx Ltd., which aims to develop treatments for controlling the activity of hypoxia inducible factor, an activity implicated in diseases from heart disease to cancer.

In the deal with Southampton University agreed in March 2002, IP2IPO has committed to invest £5 million seed capital in spinouts from the university and to date has interests in seven companies. In May 2003, IP2IPO agreed to a 25-year deal with King's College London in which it also will invest £5 million in seed capital. Under the deal with York, IP2IPO will invest about £1.2 million to establish a technology commercialization company, Amaethon Ltd., that will be responsible for spinning out companies from the university's Centre for Novel Agricultural Products.

"The major UK universities have a reputation for world-class research," said Dave Norwood, IP2IPO's CEO. "Although IP developed by the UK's leading universities has led to the creation of companies worth billions of pounds, it is only relatively recently that UK universities themselves have begun to assert ownership over and to protect and otherwise commercialize their IP assets."

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