Sir Richard Branson today launched his most controversial business venture to date by offering parents the opportunity to store stem cells from their children's umbilical cords.
The company will operate under the Virgin brand and will put blood from the umbilical cord into cold storage.
Some scientists believe future advances in medical technology will allow stem cells to be used to cure diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and cancer.
Some companies already offer the service in the UK but medical experts say their is insufficient evidence to recommend the practice, which is becoming increasingly popular in the United States.
The services typically cost about £1,500 for collection of the blood and about £100 a year for cold storage.
A number of celebrity parents are reported to have used these services including Thierry Henry, the Arsenal footballer, and Darcey Bussell, the dancer.
The venture is a departure from Virgin's most well known enterprises such as air travel, trains and soft drinks.
But Sir Richard has already signalled a strategy to invest in technologies of the future with the launch of Virgin Galactic, which will take tourists into space.