The University of Birmingham has launched a £5m investment plan to double the number of commercial spin outs within five years. The investment is part of the city’s drive to create a life science cluster centred around Edgbaston medical quarter.

Alta Innovations, the university’s commercial arm, will double the number of business managers seeking out new inventions from the institution’s 3,400 academics. Now for the first time, the £5m investment fund will enable the university to partner with venture capitalists to invest into its best inventions.

Alta Innovation’s CEO, Dr James Wilkie, said ‘The University of Birmingham is a world class research institution and the inventions that are being produced by its academic staff are truly innovative.

‘Now thanks to this new investment, backed by the university, Alta Innovations will be able to invest directly in its spin outs.

‘We will be able to provide very early stage investment into the most exciting inventions that are developed by the university’s brilliant academics.

‘This new £5m fund is a direct result of progress by the Alta Innovations that has pushed Birmingham to 5th in the UK for identification of new inventions.

‘It allows us to fully realise the potential of inventions that have real potential to benefit society.’

Alta Innovations operates at the Birmingham Research Park, on the University’s Edgbaston campus. It is backing a number of the university spin out companies including Smart Antenna Technology, which has secured £3.3 million investment to develop a multi-use antenna for laptops and mobile phones.

Alta Innovations are also leading the development of a high tech medical cluster centred around the university and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Edgbaston. Last year the company opened the BioHub, a £7m facility that provides affordable laboratory space to medical tech start ups.

Dr Wilkie said: ‘The BioHub is a fantastic facility for early stage medical start ups. The space is affordable and start ups can receive business advice on marketing and protecting their intellectual property.’

Dr Wilkie said the the BioHub Birmingham is more than half full and has plans in the pipeline for future expansion.