Imperial Innovations, the technology commercialisation arm of London’s Imperial College, is having mixed success with its current cohort of digital spinout companies.
The AIM-listed incubator, which invests in startups in return for equity, is nurturing three software and IT services (SITS) companies, in addition to a plethora of firms specialising in everything from pharma and medtech to engineering and materials.
The SITS firms include visual search software developer Cortexica, big data’ analytics startup Featurespace, and smartphone-based loyalty-programme app startup JustYoYo.
Of the three companies, two appear to be doing well, while the other is proving slightly less lucrative.
Over the course of the year, Imperial Innovations has invested a total of £6.4 million in the three startups.
That includes £2.2 million in Cortexica; £1.7 million in FeatureSpace as part of a £3.0 million funding round alongside co-investors Nesta, an innovation charity, and a number of members of the Cambridge Angels group; and £2.0 million in JustYoyo as part of a £2.8 million funding round for Yoyo alongside Firestartr and a number of angel investors.
Cortexica was valued at £5.4 million prior to the £2.2 million investment from Imperial Innovations. However, after missing several deadlines for anticipated milestones, it’s now valued at approximately £1.5 million.
Meanwhile, Featurespace, which is also backed by Autonomy founder Mike Lynch, has seen its estimated market value increase by £0.2 million.
Yoyo’s estimated market value rose by £0.9 million.
The predicted value of Imperial Innovations investment in its entire portfolio of 95 startups increased over the year (to 31 July) by 22 percent to £252 million, with cumulative cash investments of £156 million. A total of £315 million cash was invested in its portfolio companies from all sources during the year.
“The ICT sector is a growing part of the Group's asset portfolio and a key focus for the future,” the company wrote in its end of year report, which was published today.
“Our investment approach tends to be on leveraging our university partners' strengths in computer engineering rather than on social or digital media, but we are keeping a watchful eye on new initiatives in these rapidly emerging subsectors.”