Europe has far too few VCs created by former founders, or “Operators” because the trade usually likes to name them. Yes, Atomico has Niklas Zennström. Firstminute Capital has Brent Hoberman. More just lately Plural was created by Taavet Hinrikus (ex-Wise), Sten Tamkivi (ex-Teleport) and Ian Hogarth (ex-Songkick). But that “operator-turned-VC” listing rapidly runs out throughout the European tech scene.
But now that story switches to Bristol, England.
Harry Destecroix co-founded biotech startup Ziylo whereas learning for his PhD on the University of Bristol. Ziylo, a college spin-out, developed an artificial molecule that binds to glucose in blood.
But to do that he determined he needed to be surrounded by like-minded ‘SciTech’ corporations. So, in 2017 he launched Unit DX, an incubator, in collaboration with the University of Bristol, to commercialize corporations like his personal.
Three years later, in 2020, Destecroix exited Ziylo to Danish agency Novo Nordisk — which had realized it might use Ziylo’s molecule to unlock a ‘smart’ insulin — in a deal estimated to be be value over $800m .
Destecroix used his exit to to repeat the train of creating deep-tech, science-based startups, once more, in Bristol. He launched ‘tech ecosystem’ “Science Creates” consisting of the UnitX and Unit DY moist labs, and a £15 million funding fund with the University and a community of strategic companions.
Fast foward to immediately, and Destecroix has now taken that journey additional with the launch of SCVC, which is now aiming to be a $100 VC million fund, and claims to have reached its first shut (at an undisclosed quantity). The Bristol-based agency will put money into deeptech round well being and local weather.
Over a name Destecroix informed me: “It’s been two years and I feel like the more I’ve invested, the more I’ve got addicted to it. It’s been a wonderful journey. And I also feel there’s not enough founders in the UK that ended up going into venture. So we want to build we want to build a venture fund that’s really founder-led.”
SCVC’s first $17 million Seed fund (previous to the swap to full-blown VC) backed 12 corporations starting from therapeutics and diagnostics to quantum sensors and semiconductors.
Recent investments embody ‘Delta g’ (quantum gravity sensors) and Isomab (biotech), and Scarlet Therapeutics (purple blood cell-based therapeutics).
The new fund will make investments at pre-seed and seed stage with preliminary cheque sizes of $500k as much as $3m. It may even present follow-on funding of Series A tickets as much as $7m.
The fund’s first funding is VyperCore, RISC-V start-up growing modified processors.
Destecroix is joined by SCVC cofounder Jon Craton, an Angle investor and former co-founder of Zynstra which was was acquired by NCR Corporation.
Bristol-based founder John Williams, co-funder of the floated Kudan (synthetic notion applied sciences) joins because the agency’s first Venture Partner.
Destecroix defined: “What we do is we specialise in the 1% of startups that come from science, that seem crazy to the outside world. What do you mean you need to raise millions of pounds? What do you mean you don’t even know what your product is like? This. This type of startup is crazy to most people who run conventional businesses. So of course you need to wrap around them a very unique and specific set of skill sets.”
Prior to the latest information that the UK can be re-joining the EU’s Horizon science funding programme, Destecroix criticised Brexit.
“I definitely think it hasn’t helped,” he mentioned. “It’s made it harder to fund a fund in terms of European investors… I feel like we need to be part of these bigger trading bloc’s to come together to really go after some of these very big issues like energy and AI.”
However, he backed the UK’s strategy to AI: “I think the EU is over-regulating it and I think UK is taking a much more nimble approach. I’ve heard from startups from France who are thinking of moving to the UK. We need to think of AI being applied to everything: government, life sciences, healthcare.”
The information of SCVC will probably be a shot within the arm for Bristol’s booming tech scene which already boasts corporations akin to Ultrahaptics, Open Bionics, Graphcore and Immersive Labs.
…. to be continued
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