IMPERL INNOVATIONS : First investment into a Cambridge spin-out, MISSION Therapeutics

IMPERL INNOVATIONS : First investment into a Cambridge spin-out, MISSION Therapeutics

Imperial Innovations Group plc (AIM: IVO, "Innovations", or "the Group"), the UK's leading technology commercialisation and investment company, has participated in a £6 million funding round into MISSION Therapeutics ("MISSION"), investing £1.3m. Sofinnova Partners led the round which also included SR One and Roche Venture Fund. Following the investment, Innovations will hold 15.7% of the equity in MISSION.

MISSION is a new drug discovery and development company based on the pioneering research of Professor Stephen Jackson, Head of Cancer Research UK Laboratories at The Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge. He is an expert on cellular responses to DNA damage and previously founded KuDOS Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by AstraZeneca in 2006 for $210m.  Professor Jackson will become Chief Scientific Officer of MISSION, and the company will be led by Dr Niall Martin, previously head of KuDOS Pharmaceuticals.  Dr Xavier Jacq and Dr Keith Menear will also join the founding team, having both previously held key scientific roles at KuDOS Pharmaceuticals.

MISSION''s goal is to translate new molecular understandings of human cell biology and enzymes into drugs that will markedly improve the management of major life-threatening diseases.  The main focus of MISSION's research and development activity will be in oncology, where it will build a strong drug discovery platform against enzymes in the ubiquitin pathways that control cellular responses to DNA damage. Targeting this exciting area of biology may also have potential value in other therapeutic indications. 

Simon Kerr, Innovations' Director of Healthcare Ventures, will join the Board of MISSION as a non-executive director.

Susan Searle, Chief Executive Officer of Innovations, said:

"This first investment in a Cambridge company is a significant step for Innovations. We are delivering on our objective of broadening our portfolio to include technology from  Oxford, Cambridge and University College London. We are excited by this opportunity and to be working with such a strong team under the leadership of Professor Jackson and Niall Martin."

Niall Martin, Chief Operating Officer of MISSION, said:

"This is a great opportunity to continue to work with Professor Jackson to deliver high quality science and to develop drugs that will have a real impact on disease.  We are also pleased to have the backing of such a strong investor syndicate as we develop MISSION to become a leader in its field."


Imperial Innovations ()

020 7594 6589

Susan Searle, Chief Executive Officer   

Diana Crisp, PR Manager   

MISSION Therapeutics Ltd (    01223 497451  

Niall Martin, Chief Operating Officer   

College Hill 020 7457 2020

Adrian Duffield/Rozi Morris/Tim Watson   

J.P. Morgan Cazenove 020 7588 2828

Michael Wentworth-Stanley/Paul Park   

Notes to editors


Innovations creates, builds and invests in pioneering technologies addressing global problems in healthcare, energy, engineering and the environment.  It combines deep understanding of science and technology with commercial acumen and strong investment expertise.

Innovations supports scientist-entrepreneurs in the commercialisation of their ideas by:

  • leading the formation of new companies and providing facilities in the early stages;
  • providing significant investment and encouraging co-investment to accelerate the transition from R&D to products;
  • providing operational expertise; and
  • helping to recruit high-calibre industry figures and experienced entrepreneurs as executive management and Board members.

In December 2010 Innovations raised £140m to accelerate the making of, and increase the size of, investments in companies established under its existing intellectual property pipeline agreement with Imperial College London.  The Group also announced its intention to invest in companies founded by or based on technology from the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge and University College London.

Innovations has already achieved significant success with its early investments; for example its £1.5m investment in obesity drug developer Thiakis could return up to £22m, following its sale for £100m in 2008, while the sale of Respivert, a small molecule drug discovery company, resulted in Innovations realising £9.5m, a 4.7x return on investment.

In the year to 31 July 2010, Innovations invested £14.0m in 20 ventures, helping to launch three new companies. With a technology portfolio of more than 80 companies, Innovations' most advanced assets include:

  • Circassia: Innovative vaccines for the treatment of a wide range of allergies
  • Nexeon: Advanced materials that extend the cycle life and significantly increase capacity of rechargeable batteries
  • Veryan: Stents inspired by the human vascular system
  • PsiOxus Therapeutics: Developing a pipeline of small molecule therapeutics for the treatment of wasting diseases and cancer.
  • Polytherics: Biotechnology company that applies precision chemistry to develop protein and peptide-based drugs
  • Cellmedica: Cell therapy company working on new techniques to cure human diseases based on cellular immunotherapy
  • Evo Electric: Develops and manufactures advanced electric machines, hybrid drive trains and generator sets for a wide range of transportation and mobile power applications

Following Innovations announcement in December 2010 of the Group‘s broader remit to work with Cambridge Enterprise, Oxford Spin-out Equity Management and UCL Business, Innovations has recently made investments in Stanmore and Autifony both of which are linked to University College London. This MISSION investment represents the first investment into a Cambridge linked company.

MISSION Therapeutics Ltd

MISSION Therapeutics was founded in 2011 by a team of scientists including Professor Steve Jackson, Dr Niall Martin, Dr Xavier Jacq and Dr Keith Menear, along with founding institutes Cancer Research Technology and Cambridge University.  Its activities are based on the research of Professor Steve Jackson, Professor of Biology at the University of Cambridge and Head of Cancer Research UK Laboratories at The Gurdon Institute in Cambridge.

The company has received £6 million in Series A funding from a strong venture capital syndicate comprising Sofinnova Partners, Imperial Innovations, SR One and Roche Venture Fund.

MISSION Therapeutics is developing a broad platform of technologies for the discovery and further development of first-in-class modulators of enzymes  involved in cancer and other diseases.  The company will predominantly exploit the new and exciting research emerging on the ubiquitin pathways that control cellular responses to DNA damage. MISSION will develop drugs to inhibit the proliferation of tumour cells, building on the scientists' experience in exploiting the concept of synthetic lethality, now an established and powerful mechanism to selectively kill tumour cells.

The company is based at the Babraham Research Campus, around seven miles south of Cambridge.