October 6, 2011 4:52 pm

Imperial Innovations enjoys transformational year

Imperial Innovations invested a record £35m in its businesses over the past year, capping off a period of transformation for the technology investment company.

The group, which was spun out of Imperial College London to commercialise research, has expanded its operations to include businesses originating from three additional universities – Oxford, Cambridge and University College London – and raised £140m in December.

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Imperial Innovations – which was founded in 1986 and raised £26m at 365p a share in a 2006 Aim flotation, on Wednesday reported that it had invested £35.1m in the 12 months to July 31 – up from £14m last year and a record high for the company.

“We have had a transformational year,” Susan Searle, Imperial Innovations chief executive, told the Financial Times. “We revised our strategy and broadened our focus to four universities and raised £140m to step up our investment in our portfolio and build some bigger companies.”

The group invests in early-stage technology in the energy, healthcare and engineering sectors, and has high hopes for two businesses in particular – Nexeon and Circassia.

Imperial Innovations led a £40m fundraising to develop Nexeon, a company that makes next generation batteries that use silicon instead of graphite to enhance the power of lithium-ion batteries.

By substituting silicon for graphite, Nexeon has boosted the power of batteries by 20-30 per cent, said Imperial Innovations, which holds a 40 per cent stake in the group.

Nexeon’s batteries hold the record for their output of 3.2 ampere hours, compared with 2.5 ampere hours from graphite batteries, Imperial Innovations said.

The investment group also led a £60m fundraising to expand Circassia, a pharmaceutical company focused on the production of drugs to combat allergies including dust mites, grass and cat hair.

Imperial Innovations holds an 18.3 per cent stake in Circassia, which “has now reached a significant technology milestone, achieving positive results in two key phase II clinical studies”, the group said.

“We really have momentum in our investment activity, we have a great record of investing in profitable companies – we’re in a good place,” said Ms Searle.

In the 12 months to July 31, revenues rose from £4.3m to £4.5m and pre-tax profit fell from £5.5m to £573,000. Diluted earnings per share fell from 9.33p to 0.71p, and there was no dividend.

Ms Searle attributed the drop in pre-tax profit to the group declining to sell-off its businesses during the year, and instead preferring to invest in them in the hope that they will provide a greater return in the coming years.

Imperial Innovations shares fell by 5p, or 1.7 per cent, to 285p on Wednesday.

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