The top 25: Simon Goldman, David Grimm, UCL Technology Fund
When University College London (UCL) established the UCL Technology Fund with £50m ($70m) early in 2016, the vehicle was notably different from that of its UK peers.
The fund forewent contributions from the usual suspects, such as Woodford Investment Management, Invesco and Lansdowne Partners, instead turning to Touchstone Innovations, the commercialisation firm spun out of Imperial College London – since acquired by IP Group – the European Investment Fund and fund manager Albion Capital.
Albion Capital hired two investment directors to oversee the UCL Technology Fund – Simon Goldman, in charge of life sciences, and David Grimm, in charge of physical sciences, in 2016, though they have since been joined by investment analyst Tanel Ozdemir.
Goldman spent seven and a half years at Goldman Sachs JBWere, a wealth management divison of investment bank Goldman Sachs, leaving in 2006 to pursue a PhD in neuroscience from University of Cambridge. He continues to teach a range of subjects at Cambridge including macroeconomics and auditory neuroscience.
Grimm joined the UCL Technology Fund from Spark Impact, where he was in charge of making and managing investments in startups across the medical technology, telehealth and consumer healthcare sectors from 2012 to 2016. Before that, he spent three years as marketing and finance manager at fast-moving consumer goods social enterprise Yellow Valley Farmhouse.
To date, Grimm and Goldman have invested around a third of the fund’s capital in spinouts, proof-of-concept and licensing projects.
Among the fund’s portfolio companies is Hazy, which is developing a platform that automatically anonymises and adapts to changing datasets – technology that is expected to become increasingly relevant thanks to legislation such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.
Some of its portfolio companies have raised serious cash – Orchard Therapeutics, a gene therapy spinout, closed a $150m oversubscribed series C round backed by a wide range of investors including medical marketing group Medison, healthcare management services provider Sphera Global Health Care and Singaporean government-owned investment firm Temasek, in August this year. UCL Technology Fund had already backed a $110m series B round in December last year – which netted the company the GUV award for Deal of the Year – and a $30.7m series A in 2016.
Despite the fact that the fund is relatively young, it has already celebrated multiple exits. MeiraGTx, a developer of treatments for genetic disorders backed by the UCL Technology Fund, floated on Nasdaq in July this year after raising $75m in an initial public offering.
And the same month, social media group Facebook purchased Bloomsbury AI, a natural language processing technology developer, for a reported $20m to $30m. Bloomsbury has created a virtual assistant, Cape, that deciphers queries based on the content of websites or documents.
Even though UCL took a while to follow its Golden Triangle peers into the university venture funds world, Grimm and Goldman have wasted no time catching up.