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28 Sep

Six Myths About Venture Capitalists

Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin: We celebrate these entrepreneurs for their successes, and often equally extol the venture capitalists who backed their start-ups and share in their glory. Well-known VC firms such as Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia have cultivated a branded mystique around their ability to find and finance the most successful young companies. Forbes identifies the top individual VCs on its Midas List, implicitly crediting them with a mythical magic touch for investing. The story of venture capital appears to be a compelling narrative of bold investments and excess returns. The reality looks very different. Behind the anecdotes about Apple, Facebook, and Google are numbers showing that many more venture-backed start-ups fail than succeed. And VCs themselves aren’t much...
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22 Jul

Is Crowdfunding a Good Option for Your Research?

Picture this… It’s 8am. You take your first sip of coffee, ready to start your day. You check your email and… You find out your latest grant application didn’t get funded. Bummer. You give it a couple of days to get over the feeling of rejection, and then start working on your next application. Rinse and repeat until you either: 1) land the grant that will keep your research program going, or 2) run out of funding and have to leave academia. You tell yourself that in an era of budget austerity, this is just what a researcher’s life entails. Then, in a flight of fancy, you image that maybe it doesn’t have to be this way. Maybe you could crowdfund your next research...
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10 Mar

WHERE ARE THE WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS, ANGELS AND VENTURE CAPITALISTS?

<strong>by Heather Thompson, VP Professional Development, ASTP-Proton</strong> Women remain under-represented in science and business including in the creation and operation of spin-off companies from public research institutions. Whilst a recent study lead by Cassidy Sugimoto at Indiana University reported that women in academia globally are patenting at a higher rate compared to those in industry or as individuals from USPTO filings analysed between 1976 and 2013<a href="http://news.indiana.edu/releases/iu/2015/07/women-patents.shtml"><sup>1</sup></a>, this has not fed through to significant increases in the numbers of women founding spin-out companies from Universities. A study of spin-outs created by UK universities published in July 2015 by the Enterprise Research Centre found that just 8.3% of University spin-outs included a woman as a member of the founding team<a href="http://www.enterpriseresearch.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/ERC-ResPap35-M.-Hewitt-Dundas.pdf"><sup>2</sup></a>. Over the...
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25 Feb

Crowdfunding Science

What is crowdfunding and why is it so popular for the last few years? By definition, it is a practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the internet. Which is to say, it helps many companies and individual entrepreneurs to get a financial injection for their idea to come to fruition. Typically, the funds are raised for a single project, product, service or research. How about crowdfunding science? There are plenty of crowdfunding portals for scientific research, which are often run by universities or institutions. Usually, the scientific projects are funded directly by government grants (e.g., from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, etc.)...
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15 Jan

Four things to know about venture capital-funded spin-offs

Seeing the company I founded sell for a huge amount of money while personally making very little from it is, of course, frustrating. In 1999, I founded a spin-off company to exploit technology I had developed with a postdoctoral researcher in my laboratory at University College London. Twelve years later, the company, BioVex, was sold to the biotech firm Amgen for $1 billion (£600 million): $425 million upfront and another $575 million on reaching further milestones. It was one of the biggest buyouts of a UK biotech company. The company’s lead product was a virus; a disabled herpes simplex virus that can replicate and kill dividing tumour cells but has no damaging effect on normal cells – in other words, a potential...
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