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The University of York and IP2IPO reach agreement in principle for innovative partnership

Posted on 24 September 2003

The University of York announced today (24 September 2003) that it has agreed the principles of a new partnership with IP2IPO to establish a dedicated business (Amaethon Limited) that will commercialise intellectual property (IP) originating from CNAP.

CNAP is a plant and microbial gene discovery centre in the Department of Biology at the University of York. It specialises in solving problems for industry, society and the environment. The research centre was established in 1999 through a benefaction from the Garfield Weston Foundation and has achieved rapid growth since its conception. Its 60 members of staff focus on full-time research and the Centre plans to double in size over the next three years. CNAP's vision is to combine the world-class science of its research groups, with a commitment to realise the potential benefits of its research for the wider community.

Applications of CNAP's research include:

  • the production of fine chemicals, biocatalysts and industrial enzymes
  • health products from plants including new medicines and nutraceuticals
  • the development of novel biosensors
  • the development of protein-based biomaterials
  • the use of plants for remediation of contaminated land

Professor Brian Cantor, Vice-Chancellor of the University of York said: "The formation of Amaethon to unleash the commercial potential of CNAP is a very exciting development. It demonstrates the strength and quality of research in CNAP and is an excellent example of York's ambitious plans to expand its world-class research."

IP2IPO has already successfully established long-term partnerships with three universities: Oxford University Chemistry Department, the University of Southampton and King's College London.

Professor Dianna Bowles, founder and Director of CNAP, said: "The new partnership opens up many worthwhile opportunities for us and will help to ensure the benefits of our research are fully realised."

Dr Graham P Howe, Commercial Director of CNAP, said, "I am delighted to have secured this relationship, which will provide an innovative route for the commercialisation of IP from a University. Amaethon Limited has two very strong partners and is destined for success".

Dave Norwood, CEO of IP2IPO said: "CNAP is an exciting centre of excellence within the University of York. The vision and drive of CNAP is extremely impressive and we are delighted to have reached agreement in principle with the University and the CNAP team."

For further information contact:

  • IP2IPO: David Norwood, Chairman and CEO (020 7071 4348)
  • University of York: Hilary Layton, University of York Press Office (01904 432029)

Notes to editors:

  • CNAP was established through a benefaction from the Garfield Weston Foundation and funding from UK Government.
  • The research centre is located in the new £22 million bioscience development, occupying 2000m2 of laboratories and facilities.
  • Six Research Chairs and their groups, together with independently funded Research Fellows and PhD students, undertake gene discovery research in plant science and microbiology funded by UK Research Councils and international organisations.
  • The research centre undertakes projects at the interface of curiosity-driven and target-led research as well as developing programmes in public understanding of science and international alliances.
  • For further information on CNAP see
  • The name Amaethon originates from Ancient British (Welsh) God of Agriculture, mentioned in the Mabinogion and elsewhere in Welsh mythology.
  • The University of York is a dynamic and highly successful organisation, recognised internationally for its excellence in teaching and research. Named 'University of the Year' by the Sunday Times in September 2003, it has the highest average teaching score amongst UK universities and is ranked 6th for the quality of its research. Its continued success, including rapid expansion in research and spin-out activities, has led to ambitious plans for major expansion to the east of its main campus in south-east York.
  • IP2IPO is a majority owned subsidiary of Evolution Beeson Gregory, the listed investment bank and fund management group. IP2IPO's business is the formation of long-term university partnerships in which it receives a significant interest in the intellectual property created by its university partners. IP2IPO's first such partnership was with the University of Oxford. In return for an investment of £20 million (which enabled the completion of Oxford's new state of the art chemistry facilities), IP2IPO has acquired 50% of the university's shareholding in spin out companies based on intellectual property created at the chemistry department until 2015. In March 2002, IP2IPO entered into a second long-term partnership with the University of Southampton. Under the terms of this partnership, IP2IPO is committed to working with the University's Centre for Enterprise and Innovation in the identification and facilitation of spin out companies from across the University and will invest £5 million in early-stage University spin out companies over a four year period in return for equity stakes in those companies. In addition, IP2IPO also receives a 20 per cent stake in Southampton Asset Management, a company that has been formed to hold the University's equity stakes in its future spinout companies. The partnership has an initial term of 25 years. IP2IPO entered into its third long-term partnership in May 2003 with King's College London. IP2IPO will work with KCL Enterprises Ltd., the College's technology transfer group, to help identify and progress commercialisation opportunities as well as investing £5 million in spin out companies from King's College London over a five year period in return for equity stakes in those companies. In addition, IP2IPO will receive 20% of King's College London's interest in spin out companies and technology licences. The partnership has an initial term of 25 years.

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153