IP Group sees portfolio surge in value over year

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IP Group, which turns university research into business, said its portfolio has made “significant progress” so far this year and surged in value.

The commercialisation group has exclusive deals with 10 universities, including Leeds and York, allowing it to develop their intellectual property (IP). It also holds 26 per cent of its smaller listed rival, Sheffield’s Fusion IP.

Chief executive Alan Aubrey said: “The group’s portfolio has made significant progress since the start of 2012.

“Material developments across a number of companies have contributed to a net fair value increase of more than £40m, including fair value gains arising from the £15m placing and admission to AIM of Retroscreen Virology and Oxford Nanopore’s £31m private financing.

“The group has again significantly increased its rate of capital deployment into its most promising portfolio companies, and remains financially strong with net cash of £44m and a diversified portfolio valued at £179m.”

Much of this increase was driven by the £26.4m fair value gain at Oxford Nanopore Technologies after its financing last week.

IP Group said between January and the start of May it invested £14.5m across 18 portfolio companies. That compared with investment of just £4.3m in 15 companies a year earlier.

The group now has 66 businesses in its portfolio, and created three new companies during the period. Aptuscan Limited, a spin-out from the University of Leeds, was also acquired by its Wetherby-based company Avacta Group.

IP Group added Avacta and two other Leeds spin-outs have made big strides during the period.

“A number of the group’s maturing portfolio businesses have announced positive results and trading updates during the first four months of the year, including Getech Group, Avacta Group and Tracsis plc,” it said.

Leeds-based Getech, which sells and licenses gravity and magnetic data to the oil and gas industry, recently announced half-year revenue growth of 20 per cent to £3.2m and a 22 per cent increase in profits before tax to £0.4m.

Avacta, which develops detection and analysis technology and services, announced in April that half-year revenues were up 72 per cent to £1.7m.

Leeds-based Tracsis, which designs and licenses planning software to the transport sector, has won major contracts with UK rail operating groups and also released a trading update indicating its year-end results will again beat analysts’ expectations.

“The group’s holdings in these portfolio companies have seen a net fair value increase of £3.3m year-to-date, excluding net investment,” said IP Group.