UK investment group Imperial innovations has bagged a £30-million, 12-year loan from the European Investment Bank to plug into the country's biotech and therapeutics sectors.

The firm, which invests its cash in businesses built on intellectual property developed at or linked with Imperial College London, the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford and University College London, said it will receive the loan in two tranches of £15 million, the first of which will be drawn shortly.

The cash stream will add significant ballast to the group's existing fund pot, which stood at more than £60 million earlier this year, and therefore allow it to upscale investment in both new technologies and existing portfolio companies, it noted.

Meanwhile, GlaxoSmithKline spin-off group Autifony Therapeutics, one of Imperial's portfolio companies, has entered into a £2.75 million research collaboration with Universities of Manchester and Newcastle to advance a first-in-class drug for schizophrenia.

The partnership, which will focus on the development of a novel Kv3 potassium channel modulator for the condition, is part-funded by a £1.9 million grant awarded to Autifony and the two Universities by the Technology Strategy Board. 

Autifony’s own lead programme is developing first-in-class Kv3 potassium channel modulators to treat hearing loss and tinnitus; the new partnership will develop pharmaceutical compounds against the same target, but with profiles differentiated and distinct from its hearing programme, the firm stressed.

The award will be used to pick a compound from a group of potential candidates and then push it through preclinical development CTA/IND submission.