Peter Evans of the Sunday Times published a Q&A with Moray Wright, CEO of Parkwalk, on life as an earlier stage investor.
The full article can be found here but in answer to ‘best investments?’ Moray’s response was:
“I’ve had some exits that have been double-digit successes. Some have gone on to float on AIM [the junior stock market], which have been good exits. One of my most exciting recent investments is Paragraf, a graphene company based in Cambridge.
Through Parkwalk, we invested in First Light Fusion, Oxford’s nuclear fusion project. We sold that to another fund for a nice return.”
Moray also highlighted the lack of later-stage funding in the UK:
“There’s reasonable money around for university spin-outs at their early stage, but the UK generally lacks the later-stage funding that’s working so successfully in other parts of the world. A lot of companies, when they start to become successful, can’t get growth finance and get sold abroad. It’s a shame because the jobs and the taxes go elsewhere.”
This is a view recently backed up by the Prime Minister when he announced a new fund for science companies
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“The UK has the best universities in the world and we have a proud history of scientific discovery from penicillin to sequencing the human genome. But too often we let another country commercialise this discovery. Today I am changing that.
“That means allowing enough late stage capital to be mobilised so that these science discoveries do not have to go overseas to be commercialised.
“Over 60 years ago, we saw the discovery of DNA in Cambridge by a team of international researchers and today we are going even further. However this research was largely commercialised in California in a $40bn company based on UK research. This must change.”
Parkwalk, as the most active investor into UK university spin outs over the last 5 years, are demonstrating that this distinct asset class, where the UK is a world leader, can deliver attractive returns for investors, both financial and social.