IST cube is a venture fund initiated by the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) for life science and tech start-ups from the academic environment. At the end of 2020, the IST cube team, with its long experience in technology transfer, business development, patent law and financing, successfully closed a large international financing round: More than 40 million euros are now available to develop pioneering scientific research projects into commercially successful companies.
Investors in the IST cube Venture Fund include the EIF, the State of Lower Austria, aws – Austria Wirtschaftsservice, Vienna Insurance Group, Mitterbauer-Beteiligungs-AG and around twenty other private investors.
More than capital for founders: Know How, Network and Infrastructure
“With the IST cube Venture Fund, we are primarily addressing founders at universities and non-university research institutions who want to develop their spin-off with an institutional partner,” explains Markus Wanko, founder and managing director of IST cube. “We can now invest up to several million euros per start-up – for the foundation as well as in later development phases within the framework of further financing rounds. “
IST cube acts as an investor as well as a partner for the start-ups, as Michael Lukesch, founder and CEO of the biotech start-up VALANX Biotech from the IST cube portfolio confirms: “With IST cube we have not only brought capital on board but also an extensive national and international network. We were able to expand our team, populate a new lab at IST Park and thus initiate a new phase in the development of VALANX on its way to market.”
An attractive home base next to the IST Austria campus
Thanks to IST cube’s partnership with IST Austria, the portfolio start-ups have access to a research facility in Klosterneuburg that is unique in Austria and renowned worldwide. “The IST cube team has hit it big with this new round of funding,” said a delighted Tom Henzinger, President of IST Austria and supporter of IST cube since the very beginning. “We are looking forward to opening the IST Park technology park, located right next to the campus, to numerous other exciting life science and tech start-ups in the future.”
An important step for Austria as a science and business location
The federal government also welcomes the IST cube venture fund in its new dimension: “Great scientists are active in research and teaching at Austrian universities and non-university research institutions,” says Federal Minister of Education, Science and Research Heinz Faßmann. “The IST cube Venture Fund opens up entirely new and tailored opportunities for spin-offs from the academic environment. Because more than ever it is necessary to realize technological research results and their potential consistently and sustainably for solving the major challenges of the future.
Jochen Danninger, Provincial Councillor for Economy, Tourism and Sports in Lower Austria, also sees the important regional perspective: “Around IST Austria in Klosterneuburg, many significant things have been created for Lower Austria as a technology location in recent years. The state’s participation will make it possible to establish an international fund in Lower Austria that will make Klosterneuburg the spin-off capital of Lower Austria,” he explains.
Europe catches up in global technology competition
The importance of the new Austrian venture fund is made clear not least by the substantial participation of the European Investment Fund. Uli Grabenwarter is Deputy Head of Equity Investments at the EIF and sees IST cube as an exemplary structure to promote research, innovation and growth in Europe: “Europe must and will continue to catch up in the global technology competition,” Grabenwarter explains. “In terms of research and science, Europe is at the top of the league, but in the commercialization of research, we have some catching up to do. As a venture fund specialized in life science and deep tech, IST cube will contribute significantly to realizing this incredibly large potential in the future.”
Knowledge transfer from basic research to industry
The IST cube Venture Fund offers an attractive opportunity especially for investors from industry to invest in relevant research initiatives from a wide range of universities and research institutions. Therese Niss, Member of the National Council and CEO of Mitterbauer Beteiligungs-AG explains: “In order to develop further as a location in the value chain, we need applied research and technology development. IST cube provides the urgently needed knowledge transfer here and builds a bridge from basic research to the market. Also and precisely for this reason, we have joined the IST cube venture fund as investors with our family business.”
IST cube turns research projects into successful start-ups
The interdisciplinary IST cube team is strongly networked far beyond Austria, which is indispensable for the successful scaling of research and business ideas. “Our ambition is to turn the founders from our portfolio into successful life science and tech companies and thus achieve an appropriate return on investment,” explains Ingrid Kelly, molecular biologist as well as intellectual property and technology transfer expert in the IST cube team. “We fill a gap in the Austrian innovation, financing and start-up landscape, because we speak the language of science as well as that of the financial world. “
About IST cube:
IST cube is a venture capital fund regulated by the Financial Market Authority (EuVECA), managed by an independent management company and thus open to private investors. The IST cube team consists of Dr. Ingrid Kelly, Dr. Bernhard Petermeier, Florian Resch, Dr. Alexander Schwartz and Markus Wanko.
The interdisciplinary IST cube team forms an interface between science and the financial world and invests in early-stage, technological start-ups as well as life science and tech start-ups from the academic environment. Thanks to many years of experience in tech transfer, business development, patent law and financing, IST cube offers qualified founders not only capital (pre-seed, seed, Series A and Series B) but also coaching and support in all aspects of the transition from a research project to a commercially successful company.
So far, eight start-ups from the fields of medicine, biotechnology, IT and display technology from various Austrian universities from MedUni Vienna to TU Graz as well as from IST Austria belong to the IST cube portfolio. The spectrum is as broad as science itself: From biologists working on programming the elements of life to computer scientists exploring the possibilities of machine learning in healthcare and business.
IST cube is located right next to the campus of IST Austria in Klosterneuburg in Lower Austria, giving founders access to the infrastructure and network of a globally renowned research institution that is unique in Austria.
More information can be found here: https://ist-cube.com/
About European Investment Fund:
The European Investment Fund (EIF) is a European Union body established in 1994. Their mission is to help European small businesses grow and prosper, by helping to make debt financing and equity investments more accessible in the market. In this way, they are working to promote innovation, support employment and improve the competitiveness of the European economy. They are part of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group, and manage resources on behalf of the EIB, the European Commission (EC), national and regional authorities, and other third parties. In 2020 alone, they have committed € 12.9 billion of financing for European small businesses. More information: https://www.eif.org