ULive, a technology commercialisation company for the University of Liverpool focused mainly on the medical life sciences sector, is seeking admission to the UK’s AIM market with an institutional placing to raise around £20 million.

The placing of ordinary shares with new institutional investors is expected to close during June 2007, resulting in a post-market capitalisation of around £70 million. One of the Russell Group of major research-intensive universities in the UK, the University of Liverpool received some £95 million to support its efforts in the year ended 31 July 2006.

Once admitted to AIM, the London Stock Exchange’s market for smaller growing companies, ULive will have first rights to commercialise existing and future intellectual property generated and owned by the University of Liverpool for at least the next 15 years. Access to further sources of IP will come from the university’s collaborations with bodies such as the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US.

A basket of protected IP

The ULive portfolio will include interests in 13 spin-out companies and a basket of protected IP. “A number of these technologies are approaching commercialisation and, if successful, have the potential to challenge existing products in multi-billion dollar markets,” the company said.

While ULive’s investment plans include accelerating the development and commercialisation of these technologies, the funds raised from the flotation will be directed more at IP coming through the pipeline, noted company spokesman Ben Brewerton. In particular, ULive wants to ensure it secures better-quality licensing deals and retains higher equity stakes in the university’s technologies than has sometimes been the case in the past.

Two existing drug and diagnostic spin-outs illustrate this point. One is InTeraSEQ Genetics, which is developing next-generation DNA sequencing technology to underpin the delivery of better-targeted medicines and new gene-based diagnostics. ULive has retained a 29% equity stake in InTeraSEQ, which is backed by a recent £0.5 million award from the Wellcome Trust.

One-stop-shop for HIV diagnostics services

A far smaller piece of the pie is the 5% equity plus royalty retained by ULive in Delphic Diagnostics, billed as a UK leader in diagnostics for HIV clinics that is currently developing its ‘one-stop shop’ for HIV diagnostics services across Europe. Delphic acquired a therapeutic drug monitoring service developed by the University of Liverpool’s HIV Pharmacology Group in 2006.

Proceeds from the flotation will also be used to build up ULive’s management team, bring new technologies to market more swiftly and facilitate expansion of the business, including on an international scale. The current management team includes non-executive chairman Ian Ross, who has more than 25 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, including senior positions at Sandoz, Roche and Celltech; and chief executive officer Dr Stuart Exell, who brings to the table over 30 years’ international commercial experience in technology development and exploitation.

ULive was originally launched as ULive Enterprises Ltd in 2003. The company believes it is well placed to capitalise on an expected increase in funding for science research in the UK and the growing number of pharmaceutical companies looking to plug the gaps in their R&D pipelines by tapping into university innovation.