Scancell is UK’s first venture IPO of 2008

Scancell Holdings has become the UK’s first venture-backed IPO of 2008 by listing on London’s junior PLUS Market.

The cancer vaccine specialist floated with a market capitalisation of £6.1m, launching with a price of 60p per share.

Scancell was spun out of Nottingham University in 1996 and received its first venture capital investment three years later from Oxford Technology, a locally-based VCT specialising in start-up and early stage technology-based businesses.

A second funding round was closed in April 2004, with the company raising £1.3m from Oxford Technology again, Bioscience VCT (now called Hygea VCT), Oxford Capital Partners and Cherwell Capital. All, with the exception of Cherwell, have retained stakes above 3% in Scancell on IPO.

David Mott, investment director at Oxford Capital, said: “Scancell has achieved a successful IPO at a good price during a time of unprecedented market turmoil. Despite the credit crunch and recessionary fears this underlines the fact that the fundamentals for innovative businesses in the healthcare, sustainability and communications sectors remain strong and proves that outstanding technology businesses are still seen as offering excellent prospects for future capital growth.”

Venture capital backed IPOs have been in short supply across the globe, not just in the UK. Last month the National Venture Capital Association (BVCA) revealed that Q2 of 2008 was the first quarter on record which failed to register a single VC-supported IPO in the US. The NVCA followed this up with a survey which found that only 8% of respondents felt the death of the new offerings market was “not critical” to the health of the industry, and 81% did not see the IPO situation recovering in 2008.

The last European venture backed IPO came back in November 2007 when 3i floated u-blox, a Swiss provider of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, on the Swiss Stock Exchange.

The PLUS market is fast establishing itself as an alternative to the London Stock Exchange’s AIM for small to mid-cap businesses. By the end of September, 34 new companies had joined the PLUS-quoted market, and it is now the only UK growth market

where net market growth – new admissions less withdrawals – remains positive.