Cancer Research UK is linking with the Wellcome Trust and investment groups Syncona and BACIT to create a new company, to be listed on the London Stock Exchange with assets of up to £1 billion, that will stream funds into life sciences.
Under the plans, Wellcome Trust group Syncona will combine with BACIT, a listed investment fund set up to generate attractive returns for shareholders while providing annual donations to cancer charities and investment in oncology research.
The move will give the project the scale to "establish high value standalone businesses from the best life science innovation, getting treatments to patients faster, and delivering returns by capturing the full value of UK science for shareholders".
BACIT intends to invest around £100 million per year into promising life sciences projects, and at least 25 percent will be committed to oncology projects and businesses, the groups noted.
The Wellcome Trust will hold the majority stake in BACIT, which may be renamed Sycona, and Cancer Research UK will also become a shareholder, transferring either all or the majority of its investment in the CRT Pioneer Fund, an oncology focussed venture fund with proprietary access to the therapies being developed by The Institute of Cancer Research and elsewhere across it research network.
If the firm ends up with a majority of the interest in the Pioneer Fund (instead of total ownership), then CR UK will invest £17 million in new ordinary shares of BACIT, of which £7 million is in respect of its interest in the Pioneer Fund, and the remainder of which is the value of its uncalled commitment to that interest.
"This partnership provides the opportunity to build a company with the vision and scale to bring significant long term capital to the development of oncology programmes, delivering new innovations faster to patients," said Sir Harpal Kumar, chief executive of CR UK. "This is an important step in our mission to bring forward the day when all cancers are beaten."
"The UK's world leading position in life science innovation needs a deep pool of expert, long term capital that can support companies from inception through to product commercialisation," noted Martin Murphy, Syncona's chief executive.
"Over the last four years we have established a series of exciting life-science companies with the potential to deliver life-changing outcomes for patients suffering from debilitating diseases. Combining with BACIT allows Syncona to provide those companies with greater ongoing support as they grow and to make further investments in the life science space".