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Scottish Minister announces additional #10 million for university spin-outs

Deputy Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Allan Wilson announced on 6 June 2005, an injection of #10 million of private sector cash aimed at fast-tracking cutting-edge Scottish research from the laboratory to the marketplace.

Private equity outfit Braveheart Ventures is set to invest £5 million each at the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh to help create profitable businesses from those university projects which have already benefited from Proof of Concept Programme funding. The Proof of Concept Programme helps plug the gap between academic research and full commercialisation, and the Braveheart cash is set to take this assistance one stage further, supporting the creation of hi-tech, ingenious new companies. Perth-based Braveheart CEO Geoffrey Thomson said: "Several promising Scottish companies have fallen by the wayside as a result of being unable to access private sector cash in the past." "This funding is set to complement the innovative Proof of Concept Programme, and create more businesses able to compete with the best in the world. It builds on what we have achieved over the last two years with our SMART Equity Scheme." The Proof of Concept Programme is an internationally-acclaimed initiative spearheaded by Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Executive. The Deputy Minister announced the investment from Braveheart at the launch of the latest £4.4 million round of Proof of Concept Programme funding to universities, research institutes and NHS Boards across Scotland. The Scottish Enterprise Board has also approved a further £6 million support package to the Programme for the coming years. An innovation aimed at eliminating breast cancer is among those to benefit. A team from the University of Edinburgh is behind the unique technique which aims to predict which chemotherapy treatments will prove effective for each patient. It is hoped the sensitivity prediction technology will improve patient management, remove the need for additional laboratory tests, save money for healthcare providers and reduce the levels of unpleasant side effects patients experience when taking drugs which prove ineffective for their particular cancer. The Proof of Concept Programme awards grants to assist the pre-commercialisation of cutting-edge technologies emerging from Scotland's universities, research institutes and NHS boards. Its goal is to help researchers take their ideas and inventions out of the lab and develop them commercially into smart, innovative Scottish businesses. Scottish Enterprise chief executive Jack Perry welcomed the latest funding awards. He said: "Over the last six years, the Proof of Concept Programme has been a tremendous success in helping to speed up the commercialisation of leading-edge technologies from Scotland's academic institutions. "Today's announcement by Braveheart Ventures of its cash commitment adds considerably to this extensive pipeline of support." "From a Scottish Enterprise perspective, it's fantastic to see the private sector in Scotland taking the risk and investing in the technologies and businesses that will create tomorrow's wealth." Allan Wilson, Deputy Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning, said: "The annual Proof of Concept Programme awards is a time to celebrate Scottish scientific achievement at its best." "The 6th Round announcement certainly allows us to do this, and each of today's 26 award recipients deserves our recognition in reaching this milestone achievement." "The money announced today will help innovative ideas in fields such as cancer research and renewable energy along the tricky road from the laboratory to the marketplace." "But today also adds a hugely significant new element to this well regarded programme. The £10 million of private sector cash being provided by Braveheart Ventures is a ringing endorsement of the Proof of Concept Programme. "Not only does this validate the real market potential of Scottish scientific innovation, but it also shows the willingness of Braveheart to engage at the risky early stage of technology development." In the last twelve months, Braveheart Ventures has invested more than £3 million in spin-outs, with one company, MicroEmissive Display Group, listed on AIM at £25-million. Braveheart has produced portfolio returns of 39 per cent per year on exited investments and 34 per cent per year across its whole portfolio over the past eight years.The Proof of Concept Programme was launched by the Scottish Executive and implemented by Scottish Enterprise in 1999 as a three-year, #11 million fund. However, its success has lead to the project being extended to a #49 million Programme. It is partly financed by the European Union. Among the other projects to secure funding are: Video fingerprinting for digital assets management, tackling video piracy ,A pioneering tool for assessing children with brain disorders such as autism ,A slow-release dental insert to prevent gum disease ,The development of a new flood management tool ,New video communication technology, particularly of benefit to deaf users ,New software allowing speech to be artificially generated in a number of regional accents ,A lightweight direct drive electrical generator for wind, wave and tidal energy converters,Today's announcement marks the sixth round of support from the Programme, which takes the total number of projects supported to 172 and the total investment to #28.1 million. Applications are already being sought for the next round of Proof of Concept Programme assistance. Up to #6 million is available in Round Seven and institutions interested in applying can find out more information in the Proof of Concept section on http://www.scottish-enterprise.com/proofofconcept For media enquiries, please contact: Michael Westmacott of Compro PR for Braveheart,Tel: 0131-319 1477 / 07831 266561,E-mail: compropr@btcontact.co.uk Gavin Cameron, the BIG partnershipfor Scottish Enterprise ,Tel: 0141-333 9585 / 07968 495089,E-mail: gavin@bigpartnership.co.uk

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