Lund University has been operating its holding company since 1997. Twenty years later, there are still previous and current portfolio companies with no revenues. Accounts of every third company have exceeded more than SEK 500,000 (ca. € 52,000) as net income according to the latest financial statements. Only 10% of previous and current portfolios have shown earnings. A set of portfolios have either been canceled or went bankrupt.
The culminating companies are dominated by companies that are still, wholly or partially, dependent on venture capital. There are still high-profile companies with good investment outcomes in the Öresund region, such as Fieldly, BoMill, BioInvent, SolVoltaics and Glo.
“Generally speaking, many of our projects are far from the market. They need a lot of venture capital. GLO is a clear example, as the company has received more than one SEK billion (ca. € 1,200 000) , most recently from Google, which means that it is on track. But they have no black figures yet, “says Lund University Innovation Director Linus Wiebe.
In recent years, LU Holding, though, managed to attract over SEK 50 million (ca. € 5200 000) on its investment activities, primarily by selling shares in portfolio companies, above all those that chose to go to the stock market at an early stage. Expectedly, there will be a double-digit amount for the acquisition of Mistbase by the British company ARM.
This is in comparison with the SEK 1.5 (ca. € 156 000) million that the future Malmö University’s new holding company shall get from the state, if the government’s proposal goes through.
“It will be a challenge to build up an investment business with such a small capital base. And it takes time, as well, says Linus Wiebe.
He points out, however, that there are also other points with a holding company, in particular, that the university can enter into joint ventures in various collaborative projects or pursue activities related to research and education in a corporate form.
Recently, the LU Holding became an important player in the eco-system of Skåne region. This year, it supported researches proposed by the university. The main goal of the university is not to make money, but to help the research-based companies that can contribute to the social development. LU Holding is a combination between academic work and business.
Researching is the base of LU Holding work, and the bulk of LU Holding investments exists in nano-tech, IT and medicine, i.e. scalable sectors that enabled the company to profit tenth of millions SEK in the recent years; such figures that Malmö University with its holding company dreams of.