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Our Track Record

  • Ranked 1st in the UK and Ireland in the revenues of spinout companies - (HE-BCI) Survey published jointly by DTI and HEFCE
  • One of the first to do spinouts in UK and Ireland
  • First to invest capital as well as IP in UK and Ireland
  • 27-year history (1984 – 2011) as an independent company - QUBIS Ltd
  • 57 companies created
  • £130M combined turnover of companies created
  • Expected to exceed £144M in 2012
  • 1164 employment from our spinouts mostly in NI and mostly highly skilled
  • £68.5M from outside investors in the spinouts
  • Large proportion of the tech companies in NI
  • *Andor Technology PLC, first IPO of QUBIS Ltd (December 2004)
  • Financially a Gift Aid Donor to Queen’s University
  • Portfolio includes: -
    • Amphion Semiconductors Ltd (bought by Conexant Systems Inc June 2004)
    • *Andor Technology PLC (floated on AIM December 2004)
    • APT Ltd (Audio Processing Technology Ltd (bought by CSR Plc July 2010)
    • Avalon Instruments Ltd (bought by perkinelmer September 2006)
    • Biocolor Ltd
    • Fusion Antibodies Ltd
    • Hughes & Mcleod Ltd
    • Kainos Software Ltd
    • Lagan Technologies Ltd (bought by Kana October 2010)
    • Maarenco Ltd
    • Meridio Ltd (bought by Automony Corporation plc 23rd October, 2007)
    • Warner Chilcot (Galen Ltd/Quchem Ltd)


What are the criteria for a QUBIS Ltd investment?

Successful new business proposals that secure QUBIS Ltd support will have demonstrated that an investment in the new company will lead to the viable commercialisation of University innovation that has definable competitive advantage and that the staff involved are committed to the start-up company route.

The principal criteria used in the selection of suitable projects are as follows:-

Market: strong evidence of an available market opportunity;

Missionary: the presence within the team of a 'missionary' or 'champion' willing and capable of thrusting the new business venture forward;

Management: the availability of a suitable joint venture partner or commercial team who can bring relevant marketing or managerial experience to the new venture;

Growth Potential: evidence of significant, profitable growth opportunities for the new business venture;

Margin: a high gross margin, reflecting the high technology content and competitive edge involved in the new venture.  

How much money can QUBIS Ltd provide?

QUBIS Ltd will invest cash amounts, usually of between £10,000 to £50,000, in each project at the time of start-up. In return we look for an equity (normally ordinary shares) stake in the new venture. In addition, projects which require additional funding can also approach the University Challenge Fund (NI).

Will I have to invest any personal cash?

Yes, University based entrepreneurs promoting a spin-out company will be expected to invest a minimum of £1,000 cash in the venture for their own shareholding. Outside investors will also normally be sought to help commercialise and market the product or service.

Will QUBIS Ltd want it's money back?

Yes eventually, QUBIS Ltd aims to achieve a commercial return on its seed capital investments over the medium to long term. The actual time period of an investment however, will vary between individual companies and will be influenced by their development stage, rate of growth and financial performance. While our overall objective is to grow the capital value of our investments we take a realistic view of the time it takes to successfully grow a high technology business from a standing start.

What size of a shareholding will you want?

A spin-out company is essentially a partnership between entrepreneurs and the university, which will hold equity via QUBIS Ltd. Promoters are encouraged to personally hold shares (equity) to recognise their historic Intellectual Property contribution to the new venture and their importance to its future success.

The proportions of initial equity to be held by founding entrepreneurs and QUBIS Ltd will be agreed on a individual basis. QUBIS Ltd however, regards the incentivisation of the staff and management involved in each spin-out as vitally important to the success of the venture.

What role would I have in the new venture?

Promoters can be involved in a variety of roles from being a shareholder in the business through to being its full-time Managing Director. It would be normal for the University staff involved to be directors during their time as their input is central to the success of the venture. A key aspect in the success of a high technology start-up is that the founders recognise their strengths and weaknesses and play an appropriate role within the business.

What about the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)?

The universities generate Intellectual Property (IP) as a consequence of the knowledge their staff and research students create. This can take various forms, such as Patents which can be registered, but all IP can form the basis for generating wealth creating businesses.

Both universities in NI support revenue-sharing policies with the generators of this IP, and in order to maximise commercialisation they promote its protection and registration so that start-up companies can be endowed with the commercialisation rights. QUBIS Ltd investments are made on the basis that the universities normally hold the IPR at the point of investment.

Are there legal costs involved in an investment?

QUBIS Ltd will normally require the new venture to pay any modest legal costs associated with making a seed capital investment. In general QUBIS Ltd tries to minimise non essential expenditure for all new investments.

I have a business idea, when do I contact you?

As soon as possible, QUBIS Ltd staff are only too pleased to meet informally and discuss potential projects at an early stage. A one page, A4 proposal describing the market opportunity and the technology involved would be an excellent briefing document for us prior to the meeting, but this is not a necessity.

Can I also get funding from InvestNI?

Yes, the local industrial development agency InvestNI (and its predecessors IDB IRTU and LEDU) has been very supportive of spin-out ventures which have secured QUBIS Ltd equity investments.

What type of business information will you want?

An outline business plan will need to be developed as an investment proposal and will identify the market opportunity, commercial goals, milestones and resources required. It will show how a product would be brought to the market and will assess the size of that market. Importantly, it will show how the market can be accessed.

The following aspects are typical of an outline business plan for a high technology start-up:-

Executive summary - one page maximum summary of your proposal written in ´layman´s terms´ and explaining ´what you want to do and how you are going to do it´.

Technology - description of the product or technology involved, what does it do, how does it work, are there any patents involved, how much development will be required before a saleable product is available, why is your technology better than what is already available?

Marketing - what is your target market, who is going to buy the product/service, why will they buy it, how much will they pay for it, what is currently available in the market, why is your product/service better, have you any sales or expressions of interest, what price is you product going to be, what cost is your product, are you going to sell direct or through a distributor?

Management - who will form the management team, what relevant skills and/or experience do they bring to the venture, are there any gaps in these relevant skills and/or experience, how will these be filled?

Finance - how much money do you want, how much money do you need, what are the start up costs, when will you start to generate sales income, what happens if your sales take longer to materialise than you anticipate, how much of your company are you prepared to give away in return for equity funding, how much are you prepared to fund yourself?

What happens once I provide you with all the information you require?

We will appraise the outline proposal and take a decision, based on its commercial viability, as to whether or not it would be a suitable vehicle for a QUBIS Ltd investment. If we believe that a viable commercial opportunity exists we will try to reach an outline agreement covering investment amount and equity distribution with the main parties.

We will then present the investment opportunity to the QUBIS Ltd Board and recommend an investment. If Board approval is obtained, a formal investment offer is issued and appropriate due diligence may then carried out to confirm the competitive position of the venture and the various legal agreements are prepared (Shareholders’ and/or Intellectual Property Agreements, etc) to launch the new venture.

It must be stressed that all matters regarding the enquiry process are treated as strictly confidential and best endeavours employed to ensure that the process is conducted in a timely manner.

Does QUBIS Ltd provide anything else other than money that will help my new venture?

Yes, in addition to the need for capital investment, QUBIS Ltd recognises the key importance of quality advice and back-up support to creating and growing your business.

QUBIS Ltd can offer a comprehensive support service to your start-up company including:

  • Sourcing suitable commercial partners and corporate venturers;
  • Assistance with business plan development;
  • Accountancy services:
  • Intellectual Property (IP) advice;
  • Advice on the formulation of various legal agreements;
  • Company secretariat services;
  • Access to incubation centres;
  • Contacts with the local ´business angel´ and ´venture capital´ network;
  • Advice on the relevant government assistance programmes;
  • Membership of an informal network of over 30 other technology based spin-out businesses with a wide range of expertise and experience;
  • Strengthened management team through the appointment of experienced non-executive Board members.

Will QUBIS Ltd want to make a Board appointment?

Yes, QUBIS Ltd, and indeed other significant holders of equity in a new venture, will usually require a seat on the Board of Directors to represent their interests and also to contribute their expertise. Directors nominated by QUBIS Ltd will be chosen for their business expertise, contacts and ability to assist the company.

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