In 1996, The Ulysses Group was instrumental in starting a new company, Physiome Sciences. Physiome, a company developing new modalities for cardiac disease, was a combination of technologies from Oxford University, Johns Hopkins University and The University of Auckland. Ulysses negotiated the licenses with the universities and helped raise the initial seed capital of approximately $3 million. At the time when Physiome was getting started, Ulysses was also assisting the Medical Research Council (UK) in the development of a venture fund to capitalize on technologies developed by the MRC. This fund, MVM Life Science Partners (www.mvm.com), subsequently raised two additional venture funds.
In 1998, Auckland Uniservices Ltd. (www.uniservices.co.nz) approached Ulysses for assistance in the development of a venture capital fund for establishing and financing new companies that would be based on academic research & development conducted in New Zealand. Ulysses analyzed the technologies under development at the Medical Schools in New Zealand and determined there were substantial opportunities that were favorably competitive with science being developed in the rest of the world. Much like we discovered when developing the fund for the MRC, the most significant impediment to success for NZ science was (1) the lack of capital and (2) the lack of experienced pharmaceutical development management.
In 2000, the New Zealand Seed Fund was launched. It was managed by The Ulysses Group. Not only did the Ulysses group finance the development of companies, it was also an active participant in the management of the new companies and helped build partnerships with large global pharmaceutical companies for the biotech companies and large multi-national technology companies for the software entities. The fund financed five start-ups, three in biotechnology and two in software. The software companies were eventually acquired by other entities and two of the biotechnology companies merged. The remaining two biotech companies are now publicly traded. They remain the two largest bioscience companies developed from New Zealand University Technology. One, Pacific Edge Biotechnology, Ltd. (www.pacificedgedx.com) is listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange and the other Neuren Pharmaceuticals, Ltd., (www.neurenpharma.com) is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.