The Royal County of Berkshire Pension Fund is a £15 million seed investor in the British Innovation Fund, a new fund which will invest in research and innovation at British universities.
The British Innovation Fund is jointly managed by Milltrust Agricultural Investments and Future Planet Capital, and aims to invest in leading British university innovation venture funds and companies. It will receive exclusive intellectual property rights and rights of first refusal into spinout companies from each of the University funds.
According to Nick Greenwood, pension fund manager at Berkshire, the fund wanted to increase its exposure to technology, as a core theme, in its private equity allocation. Looking at the sector, it was decided that Silicon Valley, the home of US internet start-ups, was expensive and difficult to gain access to, while the British university sector represented an untapped opportunity. Commenting on the Future Planet website, Greenwood said: “It is my hope that the fund will be a conduit to bring long-term pension fund capital together with UK universities. It is certainly new territory; I’m not aware of other UK local authority schemes that are active in this sector. For us, this £15 million investment is a very meaningful stake. We’re a £1.9 billion pension fund, so this represents a 0.8% allocation. It is an opportunity we genuinely believe in.”