#UK £200m office development for Cambridge proposed


Mark Glatman’s Abstract Securities reveals that its wholly owned subsidiary – Abstract (Cambridge) Limited – has exchanged contracts to acquire a 9.17 acre site at Fulbourn Road in Cambridge, with University of Cambridge College, Peterhouse, from the Wright’s Clock Land Charity. 

Abstract proposes to speculatively build around 300,000 sq ft of offices with car parking, subject to detailed discussions with the local planning authority.

The value of the completed envisaged development will be in the order of £200 million Abstract tells Business Weekly.

Following on from several successful speculative office schemes across the UK over the last seven years, this project represents a major investment by Abstract in the Cambridge office market where supply constraints, coupled with demand – especially from life sciences, biotechnology and other more traditional office users – remains high.

Abstract has been granted a long leasehold interest by Peterhouse which will retain the freehold ownership of the land.

The site, currently comprising open farmland zoned for business use, is adjacent to Peterhouse Technology Park, also owned by Peterhouse, which is the location of the global headquarters of superchip architect Arm plc. The land lies south east of the city centre, around 2.5 miles from the railway station and gives easy access to the M11 and A14.

Abstract has retained Scott Brownrigg to design its proposals for the site which will provide a range of grade A office buildings capable of being occupied by a variety of users for multi or single occupation, but particularly focused on the technology, science and knowledge based sectors.

As with all Abstract schemes, a highly sustainable and environment focused approach will be adopted, while providing flexible space suitable for a range of end user needs, particularly important given the diverse range of target occupiers in the Cambridge market.

Mark Glatman, chief executive of Abstract Securities, says: “We are really excited to be developing in Cambridge. This is a location which we have followed closely for many years and, against a backdrop of so much uncertainty in the world today, we have no hesitation in committing to speculatively build here at the current time. 

“Our blend of occupier focused skills, and tried and tested delivery platform, means that we can quickly deliver first class space into a unique market and befitting its highly skilled workforce. We believe Cambridge will be a key engine room to growth as our economy recovers over the coming years.

“We are delighted to have worked on the purchase with Peterhouse, the oldest College in Cambridge, founded in 1284, and we will be maintaining a close relationship throughout the development process in order to realise our aligned ambitions for the land.”

Bidwells represented Abstract and Peterhouse in the acquisition. Cheffins represented the vendor. Abstract was advised by Pinsent Masons and Peterhouse by leading law firm Mills & Reeve.

For information about the proposed development you can email mark.glatman [at] abstractsecurities.com (Mark Glatman) or christopher.mcpherson [at] abstractsecurities.com (Christopher McPherson) .

Established in April 2000 by Mark Glatman, the Abstract Group of Companies specialises in commercial property development and venture capital financing. 

The management team at Abstract is highly experienced at working directly with major property owners and corporate end users and has developed in excess of 1.2 million sq ft of new office buildings across the UK in the last seven years, providing new offices for companies including Babcock plc, KPMG, Aker Solutions, Pension Protection Fund, Zurich UK and Wood plc, amongst others.

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#UK Private Equity firms poised to aid recovery and fuel M & A activity


It’s clear that we’re in for a long and bumpy ride and a very gradual transition to ‘normal’, writes Tom Gallop, Corporate Finance partner at Ashcroft Partnership LLP.  

Many businesses face an uncertain future and some will not survive, but those that went into the crisis with a strong balance sheet and an effective management team should emerge, albeit weaker and perhaps in need of capital and a fresh strategy.  

What does this mean for the M & A market? Many business owners will be reluctant to abandon the valuations they might have enjoyed before the pandemic, so for those vendors for whom maximising value is the objective and timing is not critical, thoughts of a complete exit will have been delayed. 

Those other sellers of businesses, PE firms, who are sitting on assets they might have been expecting to sell shortly, will also be delaying processes. 

Trade buyers are likely to focus on rebuilding their own balance sheets and rethinking strategy, whilst a few will be eyeing distressed assets. 

The banks will be reluctant to lend to new customers whilst they grapple with their new COVID-19 related loan books and work with existing borrowers to avoid default. 

Scrutiny during underwriting is likely to increase dramatically and a whole new range of scenarios (global disruption to supply chains, for example) could be modelled during due diligence.

Despite this, we are not in for a repeat of 2008 when the deal-making tap was turned off. In 2008, one of the chief characteristics of the post-2008 period was a lack of liquidity. The banks could not lend and many PE firms were hamstrung, having invested heavily in leveraged buy outs. In short, there was no money.

In 2020, by contrast, there has never been so much ‘dry powder’ waiting to be deployed and private equity firms are ready to step in. Mid-market private equity firms such as LDC and August have funds raised and ready to be deployed, whilst Foresight’s recently launched East of England Fund boasts a £100 million pool of patient capital set up to assist companies in the East of England.

As Matt Mcloughlin, senior investment manager at Foresight, explains: “Recent months have presented a great challenge for businesses in the region, across all sizes and market sectors. We have an important role to play as investors, partnering with entrepreneurs to secure their businesses, achieve their growth potential, and maximise opportunities through uncertain market conditions. 

“Now more than ever, it is crucial that high growth SMEs are connected with the capital and support they need. We are actively seeking opportunities to discuss investment with interested shareholders and management teams.”

Having spent the last couple of months supporting their portfolio businesses and reworking business plans, PE firms are now looking at buying and investment opportunities. 

The race is on to find quality assets in resilient sectors such as technology, business services and software.  

In addition to providing capital to rebuild balance sheets, private equity firms will be keen to provide an element of cash out to vendors who might be seeking to de-risk after recent traumatic events.

They are also looking to support buyouts of non-core divisions from larger organisations. Valuations should hold up well where private equity is concerned, as they can afford to invest now and take the risk of short-term underperformance – it is the potential valuation in five years’ time that will interest them.

Mark Nunny of Business Growth Fund (BGF) agrees: “Equity investment has a key part to play in the recovery. Balance sheets will require strengthening, debt built up will require refinancing and companies will require growth capital to make the most of the opportunities that present themselves. 

“Having backed over 300 management teams to help them grow their businesses over the past nine years and with considerable capital to invest, BGF is well placed to work alongside management teams to grow their businesses and shareholder value.”

Various terms have been used to describe private equity firms over the years, some not entirely complimentary. But in the months and years to come they could prove to be knights in shining armour. 

By bringing much needed capital, long-term vision and operational expertise, they will be welcomed by many of the region’s entrepreneurs as they try to get things moving again.  

• For further information on how private equity could help your business, contact Tom Gallop, Corporate Finance Partner at Ashcroft, on 01763 209113.

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#UK Cambridge impact unknown as Arm divests IoT business to parent SoftBank


Superchip architect Arm has declined to go into the potential impact on its Cambridge UK headquarters of a major restructuring by its Japanese parent company SoftBank.

ARM is set to to transfer two of its Internet of Things (IoT) businesses to SoftBank, subject to board approval. SoftBank would then directly oversee those divisions. 

Arm told Business Weekly that the move is strategic and designed to promote improved growth and profitability.

A spokesperson added: “If the proposed transfer is completed we will deepen our focus on our core semiconductor IP business and accelerate the returns on our investments in client, infrastructure, automotive and embedded/IoT devices.

“We are not sharing any additional details or commenting on future plans at this time.”

Business Weekly has recently reported a number of new technologies developed within these core categories which will be directed from Arm’s massively expanded Cambridge headquarters. Arm’s IP across these segments is huge and global and it has leading international players leveraging the enhanced technology.

Arm was sold to SoftBank for $32 billion in September 2016 and CEO Simon Segars believes the newly announced strategic pivot will significantly enhance the bottom line.

He said: “Softbank’s experience in managing fast-growing, early-stage businesses would enable the IoT Services Group to maximise its value in capturing the data opportunity.

“ARM would be in a stronger position to innovate in our core IP roadmap and provide our partners with greater support to capture the expanding opportunities for compute solutions across a range of markets.”

ARM expects to complete the switch before the end of September and I understand it intends to continue collaborating with the divisions moving to SoftBank control after the handover.

Arm smashed its own record for the number of chips circulated to customers worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2019. Arm silicon partners shipped a record 6.4 billion Arm-based chips, the third record quarter for unit shipments in the past two years.

Arm saw growing demand for embedded intelligence in endpoint devices as demonstrated by the record 4.2 billion Cortex-M processors shipped across the planet.

To date, Arm partners have shipped more than 160 billion Arm-based chips, and an average of more than 22 billion over the past three years.

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#UK Xaar’s 30th birthday: Now, where to stick the candles!


Management at Cambridge inkjet innovator Xaar plc say they have sent champagne to all the team to mark the company’s 30th anniversary. But the harsh truth is that for shareholders the bubbly went flat years ago.

Xaar would be well advised not to ask stockholders where to stick the candles destined for the birthday cake.

At the time of writing, at close of the UK market on Monday night, the share price stood at 57.80p and the market cap was £45.23 million, hardly a bottom feeder taking in the broader scheme of things.

Then you look at the 52-week profile and see a high of 99p and a low of 18.70p. Then you review September 2019 and see that the stock nosedived 40 per cent after a poor set of results, news of a painful restructuring and notification that CEO Doug Edward was one of several executives standing down.

Oh – and there were likely to be as yet unspecified job losses from a related decision to review the Printhead business. First half revenue was down £12.8m to £22.5m year-on-year and the underlying loss was £7.6m.

We had reported at the end of June 2018 that Xaar had made an unspecified number of job cuts as part of a cost-slashing exercise in a bid to meet profit targets. 

That followed a fall in revenues in the Cambridge Science Park company’s ceramics business and poor visibility regarding a diversification strategy. Back in October 2014, Xaar cut a fifth of the workforce – around 160 jobs – after problems in China.

So the only way is up – right? Not necessarily. On April 23 this year – a calendar month after the coronavirus lockdown – Xaar reported a revenue fall and much-widened loss for 2019, but added it was yet to see a fall in customer demand due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Revenue was 18 per cent lower in 2019 at £49.4m from £60.5m. Xaar’s pretax loss ballooned to £71.9 million from £15.1 million. The company decided against paying a dividend.

The naked truth is that at the last count, the stock had declined 89 per cent in three years. Pass the champagne flute – and keep on passing it down the line! A more sobering brew would appear to be required.

Business Weekly has championed Xaar since it was founded in the same year as ourselves – 1990 – by a team of four including Mike Willis and Mark Shepherd. 

The vision was to commercialise the work done at Cambridge Consultants by Steve Temple and David Paton, the inventors of Xaar’s piezoelectric Drop-on-Demand technology; both of whom also joined the company shortly after Xaar began life. 

The company signed its first commercial agreement in 1991 with Brother Industries who licensed the technology to develop home office printers and fax machines. 

By 1992 Xaar had reached a significant milestone, surpassing £1m in sales achieved from license fees, the sale of evaluation kits and technical consultancy. 

In 2013 after a fabulous previous 12 months in terms of generating cash and cracking global markets the company was named this newspaper’s Business of the Year. Its ability to innovate in the inkjet world is not and never has been in question. 

The company continues to have world-class technology at its fingertips. The fact is that it has been too accident prone – too often.

Xaar has spent the lockdown hunkering down and says it is well placed to execute a bounceback. Time will tell.

Recent innovations have included High Laydown Technology, which enables deposition of large quantities of fluid at high line speeds, and Ultra High Viscosity, which allows fluids with significantly higher viscosities – up to 100 centipoise at typical operating temperatures of around 40˚C to 50˚C – to be jetted. 

Such developments have increased the flexibility of the Xaar ceramics portfolio and opened growth in new cutting-edge sectors such as 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing.  

John Mills, CEO of Xaar said: “30 years is a significant milestone for any business and we were all extremely keen to mark the occasion and celebrate our accomplishments as a team – despite many of us still working in separate locations. 

“It has been a real joy reviewing the many achievements from over the last 30 years and through this, acknowledging the unique heritage we have in the development and use of inkjet technology worldwide.

“We are proud to be a leader in inkjet technologies and very much look forward to achieving our next significant milestones.”

As someone who has championed Xaar for the best part of three decades, no-one would be more thrilled than I if the company emerges from the current pandemic as a stronger and more sustainable business. But shareholders are expecting action rather than words from here on in: now sustained success really would be the icing on the cake.

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#UK GeoSpock to unveil seminal funding round to fuel global expansion


GeoSpock, the Cambridge extreme data technology pioneer, is set to wrap up a megabucks and transformational investment round within weeks to underpin further international expansion.

We expect GeoSpock to close the new round towards the end of July or early August at the latest. I understand that the company has new lead strategic investors and that existing backers will all continue to support the business as it scales to fresh heights globally.

The new finance has been obtained despite the handicap imposed on negotiations by the coronavirus pandemic.

I’m told GeoSpock has some exciting strategic investors lined up that are well positioned to ensure the company represents the de facto database powering telco IoT and Smart City deployments globally. 

I’m further assured that the company has some major lines of business ‘cooking’ in Asia where appetite for GeoSpock’s technology continues to grow.

As Business Weekly reported in June 2019, GeoSpock leveraged growing demand in Asia by opening operations in Tokyo and Singapore. It plans to hire 30 staff in Asia by June 2021. The company raised a fresh £10m in January 2019; Japanese investors Global Brain and 31Ventures along with data tech company KDDI Supership chipped into the round which took the total raised by GeoSpock to date to £19.5m – just under $25m – and was designed to fast-track transformational GeoSpock engagement with the massive Asian markets of Japan and Singapore.

There is no gain without some pain and GeoSpock made an unspecified number of redundancies in February with a further headcount review in progress.

However, anonymous emails from disgruntled ex-employees sent to Business Weekly claiming that half the workforce have been laid off have been described as way off the mark by inside sources.

The lay-offs are said to be more to do with the company pivoting key elements of its technology offering away from visualisation and back towards a deep-tech core-database focus.

One reliable source told me: “Being able to articulate, sell and build mission-critical digital infrastructure for running future data and IoT platforms for nations, global telcos and automotives requires very deep technical training and is unfortunately not a journey for everyone. 

“Our recent benchmarks put us firmly ahead of Google and Amazon database offerings so we’re now in the process of hardening the product to be suitable for large enterprises – which will require quite a bit of extra work, but the potential payoff is huge.”

• Photo by fabio on Unsplash

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#UK Pfizer leads $15m raise and expands alliance with Mission Therapeutics


Cambridge drug discovery business Mission Therapeutics has raised $15 million in equity investment in a round led by existing backer Pfizer Ventures, the venture capital arm of Wall Street-quoted Pfizer Inc.

Perhaps more importantly looking to the long term, the companies have also expanded their relationship. 

Mission focuses on selectively inhibiting deubiquitylating enzymes (DUBs) and the partners have extended the alliance to include an evaluation and option agreement for DUB target validation.

Pfizer Ventures has been an investor in Mission Therapeutics since 2013. Today it has invested a super pro rata amount. 

All other existing investors within Mission joined the round on a pro rata basis. No further financial details have been disclosed.

The new capital will support development of Mission’s world-leading DUB platform, as well as growth of its pipeline of DUB inhibitor programmes.

DUBs have attracted significant interest as potential drug targets. Playing an integral role in protein homeostasis, this large family of enzymes is involved in diverse cellular processes and many disease pathologies.

Under the terms of the evaluation and option agreement, Pfizer will access specific DUB inhibitors from Mission’s platform and test these compounds in phenotypic screens to validate promising drug targets. Pfizer will then have the option to negotiate target exclusivity for each of the DUBs of interest. The agreement does not include any of Mission’s own lead DUB programs, such as USP30.

Dr Denis Patrick, managing partner of Pfizer Ventures and a member of Mission’s board said: “Since our initial investment in Mission seven years ago, the company has grown tremendously and the depth of its scientific expertise and capability has grown alongside it. 

“We are proud to expand our relationship with the company and our scientists are looking forward to a successful collaboration in this important area of research.”

Dr Anker Lundemose, CEO of Mission Therapeutics added: “We are pleased to expand our relationship with Pfizer, one of the world’s premier biopharmaceutical companies. 

“We have benefitted from the valuable contributions of Dr Patrick as a member of our board and look forward to working with the wider Pfizer team.”

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#UK Huawei commits £1bn to first phase of Cambridge optoelectronics nervecentre


Huawei has won planning consent for the first phase of a new optoelectronics R & D and manufacturing centre in Cambridge.

It will invest £1 billion in the first phase of the project which includes construction of 50,000 square meters of facilities across nine acres of land and will directly create around 400 local jobs.

Once fully operational, it will become the international headquarters of Huawei’s optoelectronics business. The investment is a major boost for the continued growth of Cambridge as a world-leading technology hub.

The first phase of the project will focus on the research, development, and manufacturing of optical devices and modules – an integrated model that promises to bring innovation faster to market. 

Optoelectronics is a key technology used in fibre optic communication systems and this investment aims to bring the best of such technology to data centres and network infrastructure around the world.

Victor Zhang, Vice-President of Huawei, said: “The UK is home to a vibrant and open market, as well as some of the best talent the world has to offer. 

“It’s the perfect location for this integrated innovation campus. Through close collaboration with research institutes, universities, and local industry, we want to advance optical communications technology for the industry as a whole, while doing our part to support the UK’s broader industrial strategy. Ultimately, we want to help enshrine the UK’s leading position in optoelectronics and promote UK technology on a global scale.”

Today’s approval follows over three years of work and planning. Huawei began the search for the ideal location back in 2017 and completed the acquisition of the 500-acre South Cambridgeshire site in 2018.

The company began its planning application process in early 2019. The site is located at the former Spicers paper mill and production facility located to the west of Sawston. The site includes over 50 acres of brownfield land.

Huawei employs 1,600 people in the UK and this year marks the company’s 20th year of operating in this market. Huawei supplies telecoms network equipment to all the major mobile and broadband service providers in the UK, as well as offering a range of world leading smartphones to UK consumers.

This is a remarkable coup for Cambridge considering that the UK government is considering reneging on a promise to let Huawei have a slice of the 5G implementation.

The Government OK’d Huawei’s involvement in creating the new 5G infrastructure despite opposition from the White House. Now it is threatening to renege on the undertaking after a revolt in its own ranks and renewed pressure from America.

The US fears Huawei links to the Chinese government could lead to security breaches – an accusation the company has consistently and vehemently denied.

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#UK Commercial Leases: Gearing up as we emerge from the pandemic


I began writing this as we approached the June quarter day when the concerns of both commercial landlords and tenants were brought into sharp relief following the tough – or non-existent – trading circumstances this past quarter, writes Elizabeth Deyong, Property Partner at law firm Barr Ellison.

Many tenants will inevitably have much depleted cash reserves at their disposal and landlords – who may have allowed a rent postponement or waiver on the March quarter’s rent – will likely have understandable concerns about what the June quarter date (June 24) was likely to bring.

As we look to the future, tenants and their landlords will be having conversations about the benefits to each party of varying existing lease provisions.

Tenants will be looking for additional flexibility to futureproof their businesses.Landlords will be seeking a variation of lease terms which can add value and provide additional collateral for Lenders.

In the situation of a defaulting tenant, there are a number of remedies at a landlord’s disposal to take action against a defaulting Tenant – albeit that some of these have been amended by the Coronavirus Act 2020.

There will undoubtedly be circumstances where the landlord should take a tough line in order to bring to a close a relationship with a tenant that may have been going south prior to the pandemic.

However, for landlords who have the opportunity to think strategically about their individual investments or across their portfolio, then re-gearing existing leases will be an opportunity to improve relations with their tenants whose own businesses will have been suffering, and to futureproof investments going forward.

Extending lease term as a quid pro quo
For example agreeing a short suspension of rent to a tenant that is generally trading well and that is likely to bounce back once the economy is on an upward trajectory, could be agreed in exchange for an extension of the term for an additional three or five or even 10 years to the benefit of both parties to the lease.

Variation to rent payment terms
A landlord could consider varying payment terms to allow rent to be paid monthly. This is an obvious aid to the tenant’s cash flow.

Extending length of the term
Extending the length of the lease term can benefit landlords as it increases the capital value of their properties It can also be beneficial to the tenant who may have goodwill inherent in the property and require longer term security.

An extension of the term can be dealt with by way of a reversionary lease which will be based on the terms of the existing lease but may include more favourable terms or added incentives to entice the Tenant to stay longer.

Assignment and underletting
Regearing a lease presents an opportunity to look at all the existing covenants and how they might be amended to the advantage of both parties.

For example, a variation could be permitted to allow the tenant to underlet at a reduced rent, although the risk to the landlord would be that if the head lease came to an end the undertenant would be in place at that lower rent.  It is a matter of balancing the respective interests of the parties.

Similarly, a tenant who is only permitted to underlet the whole of the premises may be permitted to underlet part to allow greater flexibility for its use of the premises.

Time of crisis bringing landlords and tenants together
Times of crisis inevitably bring landlords and tenants closer together to understand their respective challenges better in a way that does not happen when the economy is running smoothly.

If landlords want to keep their premises occupied then they are going to need to have a dialogue with their tenants as to what lease provisions are no longer working and how leases may be regeared to the mutual benefit of both parties.

If you are considering lease variations, please contact the Barr Ellison Commercial Property team to talk through your proposals and how these can best be captured within a binding Variation Document that is SDLT efficient.

• For more information please contact Elizabeth Deyong – email: e.deyong [at] barrellison.co.uk

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#UK Kymab wins Supreme Court patent victory over US giant


Cambridge biopharma business Kymab has won a landmark UK Supreme Court verdict that invalidates patent claims by US giant Regeneron.

It is the latest court victory for the Babraham-based antibodies powerhouse over its New York rival.

With investment totalling $220 million Kymab is using its antibody platforms to realise new opportunities in therapeutic antibodies and vaccine development.

Kymab reveals that the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has held that all of the claims of two patents (European Patents EP(UK) 1 360 287 and EP(UK) 2 264 163, the ‘Murphy patents’) owned by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc that were asserted against Kymab are invalid.
The court’s decision upholds the February 2016 verdict of the High Court trial judge, Mr. Justice Henry Carr to revoke the claims and reverses the Appeal Court’s determination that they were valid. 

A five-member panel of the Supreme Court heard arguments in February and announced their decision today. It was held that the relevant claims of the Murphy patents were invalid for insufficiency because they did not enable the ordinary skilled person to work the claimed invention across the breadth of the claims, in line with established jurisprudence of the UK courts and European Patent Office. 

The Supreme Court noted that Kymab’s ability to create transgenic mice with the entire human antibody variable region depended upon Kymab’s own inventions made separately after the priority date of the Murphy patents.

Kymab CEO Simon Sturge said: “We are grateful that the Court has recognised the shortcomings of the Regeneron patents and reinforced the established law that requires that an invention is adequately enabled across its scope. 

“Kymab’s IntelliSelect® platforms continue to generate best‑in‑class, fully human monoclonal antibodies, underpinned by our extensive IP estate.”

Dr Penny Gilbert, partner at Powell Gilbert LLP, added: “This case raised fundamentally important questions of patent law relevant to a wide variety of innovative life science companies in the UK. 

“The Supreme Court has confirmed that patents should not be available for inventions that are not adequately enabled. Kymab has shown tremendous resilience in defending this case since Regeneron commenced proceedings in September 2013 and we are pleased to have helped them achieve this great result.”

The Murphy patents sought to cover genetically modified mice containing chimeric human-mouse antibody genes and the human antibodies made using such mice. 

The European Patent Office had previously upheld the patents but had not considered evidence that was available to the UK Courts. Counterparts of the Murphy patents have also been litigated by third parties in the US where an equivalent Murphy patent was found to be invalid. 

Kymab’s patent estate provides protection in the United States, Europe, Japan and other globally important commercial markets for human antibody therapeutics. 

Its patents cover human antibodies produced using transgenic platforms that employ chimeric human-mouse antibody genes. In September 2019 and January 2020, Regeneron filed requests at the US Patent Office’s PTAB (Patent Trial & Appeal Board) seeking Inter Partes Review (IPR) proceedings against 5 of Kymab’s US patents. 

The PTAB rejected all five petitions filed by Regeneron leaving each patent and their claims in full force in the US. Regeneron filed oppositions against Kymab’s Japanese patents, but these patents were upheld in unappealable decisions by the Japanese Patent Office. 

In August 2019 the Australian Patent Office (IP Australia) rejected on all grounds an opposition by Regeneron against Kymab’s patent protecting therapeutic antibodies produced from transgenic mouse platforms. Regeneron appealed to the Australian Federal Court, but in May 2020 Regeneron agreed to dis­continue its appeal and Kymab’s Australian patent is now upheld and in force.

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#UK Siemens pays millions for Cambridge’s UltraSoC


Cambridge chip technology business UltraSoC has been acquired by Texas-headquartered Siemens Digital Industries Software.

While no sum has been officially announced for the acquisition it runs into the multimillions, Business Weekly understands.

It is understood that UltraSoC will continue in Cambridge and that CEO Rupert Baines will stay at the helm in Cambridge immediately following the sale.

UltraSoC provides instrumentation and analytics solutions that put intelligent monitoring, cybersecurity and functional safety capabilities into the core hardware of system-on-chip. 

Siemens has bought UltraSoC to drive design for silicon lifecycle management. It plans to integrate UltraSoC’s technology into the Xcelerator portfolio as part of Mentor’s Tessent™ software product suite. 

The addition of UltraSoC to Siemens enables a unified data-driven infrastructure that can enhance product quality, safety and cybersecurity, and the creation of a comprehensive solution to help semiconductor industry customers overcome key pain points including manufacturing defects, software and hardware bugs, device early-failure and wear-out, functional safety, and malicious attacks.

Brady Benware, Tessent Vice-President and General Manager, Siemens Digital Industries Software, said: “Siemens’ acquisition of UltraSoC means that for the first time our customers can access not just design-for-test, but a comprehensive ‘Design for Lifecycle Management’ solution for system-on-chips, including functional safety, security and optimisation.

“By utilising design augmentation to detect, mitigate and eliminate risks throughout the SoC lifecycle, customers can radically improve time-to-revenue, product quality & safety, and profitability. 

“UltraSoC has a fast-growing business and impressive customer list and, as part of Siemens, can complement Tessent to create a truly unique offering in the market.”UltraSoC in Cambridge

The combination of Siemens and UltraSoC technology can benefit the entire semiconductor product lifecycle, including structural, electrical, and functional capabilities of SoCs. It also supports Siemens’ comprehensive digital twin with UltraSoC providing monitoring of the real device.

UltraSOC CEO Rupert Baines added: “This acquisition accelerates UltraSoC’s vision at a much larger scale with the incredible team, assets, industry know-how and footprint of Siemens.

“Being part of one of the world’s foremost technology companies will allow UltraSoC to better serve our customers by accelerating R & D, leveraging a much larger pool of go-to-market resources, and an enormous global infrastructure.

“It has been clear since our initial meeting that UltraSoC and Siemens share a vision on how technology businesses can transform their operations end-to- end, from design conception to field deployment and we are excited to join the community.”

He added in a blog: “What a momentous day this is. After five years in the role of CEO at UltraSoC, I am proud that we have agreed to become a part of Siemen, in a move that we knew made perfect sense from the time of our first meetings. It is striking just how clearly aligned our visions are.

“The pieces of the jigsaw fit together so nicely: UltraSoC’s technology and history with its customers; where Tessent is coming from and its market-leading design-for-test offering; and the broader vision of Siemens Digital Industries. 

“The combination takes us to another level: product lifecycle management is such a significant big-picture opportunity, as is cybersecurity and the concept of the Digital Twin. 

“Tessent and UltraSoC bring the core semiconductor element to that broader story, making it perfectly balanced. Tessent brings IP into the chip to improve test and manufacturability; UltraSoC enhances the validation process and extends that into field deployment. Overall, the combination enables a truly complete design for product lifecycle offering.

“Our people are spread around the world: in Cambridge and Bristol in the UK; in the US, Poland, China and Japan. Our geographical diversity means that we’ve actually never all been in the same place at the same time!

“The fact that Siemens has recognised our value is testament to the talent, hard work and the success of the entire organisation.

“Over five years, we’ve announced some incredible customer wins that have demonstrated the traction for our technology across security applications, automotive, enterprise IT, artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML). We’ve put significant effort into developing strong industry presence through strategic partnerships.

“As is the nature of the industry and the technology companies we sell into, we are under NDA with many customers and will never be able to publicly declare many of the major names in the technology industry who trusted us and decided to use our technology in the last few years. But our thanks to all of those customers and partners who have believed in us so strongly.”

UltraSoC‘s products are widely used in the automotive, high-performance computing, storage and semiconductor industries. The company was recently selected as a participant in the DARPA AISS (Automatic Implementation of Secure Silicon) program and is a member of the Secure-CAV consortium – an ambitious collaborative project that aims to improve the safety and security of tomorrow’s connected and autonomous vehicles. 
Siemens’ acquisition of UltraSoC is due to close in the fourth quarter of Siemens’ fiscal year 2020. 

Siemens Digital Industries Software is driving transformation to enable a digital enterprise where engineering, manufacturing and electronics design meet tomorrow. 

The Xcelerator portfolio helps companies of all sizes create and leverage digital twins that provide organisations with new insights, opportunities and levels of automation to drive innovation.

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