Berkshire Pension Fund makes seed investment in U.K. university innovation fund

Royal County of Berkshire Pension Fund, Maidenhead, England, committed £15 million ($18.9 million) and is the seed investor in a new strategy to direct institutional capital into the commercialization of U.K. university innovation, said Nick Greenwood, pension fund manager.

The British Innovation Fund was launched by Future Planet Capital and Milltrust International Group. Mr. Greenwood is chairman of the investment committee for the fund, which is subadvised by Future Planet and Milltrust Agricultural Investments. The strategy has commitments so far of £30 million.

“It was an opportunistic way of taking opportunities we were keen to take advantage of, but in a more efficient way than trying to do it by ourselves,” Mr. Greenwood said.

The £1.9 billion pension fund made the commitment as part of a broader overhaul of its private equity portfolio, which Mr. Greenwood said in a news release had been redesigned to focus on three core themes, including technology. Further details could not be learned by press time.

Mr. Greenwood added in the news release that investment possibilities in the U.S., Southeast Asia and elsewhere were considered before the decision to focus on the U.K. university sector, “which I believe represents a massive untapped opportunity. The valuations are also more attractive in the U.K. than they would be in Silicon Valley, and the investment industry around university research is less well-developed.”

The strategy is structured as an Irish Collective Asset-management Vehicle, an open-end and long-term vehicle. “An ICAV structure gives us the opportunity to nurture investments appropriately,” Mr. Greenwood added in the release.