Neil Woodford has added £11.6m to his stake in Imperial Innovations, a technology company that invests in start-ups ranging from payment apps to new drug treatments, underlining the respected fund manager’s confidence in British science research.
The purchase boosts Woodford Investment Management’s existing 19.9pc holding in Imperial by nearly 2pc, and comes after the technology company placed £100m of new shares last February in a bid to expand its portfolio and back new investments.
Aim-listed Imperial Innovations, which was spun out of Imperial College London in 2006, has a £355m portfolio of technology companies working in a mix of sectors including therapeutics, medical diagnostics engineering and ICT.
It also has a deal with Imperial College London, one of the UK’s most prestigious science universities, to sell the technology discovered by students and academics.
Imperial Innovations is now one of the biggest holdings in the Woodford Equity Income fund, sitting alongside more familiar names such as AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline.
When Mr Woodford set up his own fund in 2014 after 25 years at Invesco Perpetual, the much-followed investor said he wanted toplough more into British science research, and drug-making in particular, saying “British science is, in my view, in great shape”.
Imperial Innovations posted a pre-tax loss of £5.9m in the six months to January 31, largely due to a fall in the value of the quoted portfolio. It has yet to pay shareholder dividends.
Alongside its co-investors, Imperial has committed £1bn to its portfolio companies since 2006. Most of these companies are located within the so-called “golden triangle” of London, Cambridge and Oxford.
Its biggest investment is in Circassia, a pharmaceuticals firm that is developing a range of allergy vaccines. Imperial Innovations holds a 9.3pc stake in the business.
Oxford-based Circassia is worth £77.5m and is due to publish key data from late-stage clinical trials for a novel treatment for cat allergy by the end of the month.
Another Imperial investment, Yoyo Wallet, is an app that turns a smartphone into a virtual wallet and checkout counter. It allows app-users buy an item through their smartphone and gives them a digital receipt, meaning they don’t need to queue at the tills.
Martin Knight, the chairman of Imperial Innovations, said at the time of the share-placing last February: “This new funding will allow us to scale up our investment in our most promising portfolio companies.”