Evans joins new biotechnology company

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The Independent Online
Just months after pledging that he was "at saturation point" and would not launch another new venture for at least five years, Chris Evans, the biotech entrepreneur, has taken a non-executive post in Microscience, a biotechnology company which hopes to list on the UK market in three years.

The company was launchedyesterday by Merlin Ventures, the seed capital company founded last year by Dr Evans, and by the Royal Postgraduate Medical School. Microscience's technology base is aimed at bringing new antimicrobial vaccines and drugs to market.

The drugs and vaccines will include the prevention of infectious diseases that have become resistant to antibiotics and Group B Streptococcus.

Merlin also yesterday completed a pounds 2.5m first round private fundraising for its other company, Cyclacel, which is developing a cancer drug. Cyclacel is chaired by Dr Evans and could float on the stock market in two years.

Liz Holt, a director of Merlin, denied that Dr Evans had taken on too many roles. Dr Evans, who recently stood down as a non-executive chairman of Chiroscience, is also the founder of three quoted groups - Toad, the car security company, Celsis, the biotechnology group, and Enviros, the environmental products and services company.

Ms Holt said: "Chris now has a team of seven of us sharing the work that he was taking on alone. That's why Merlin was founded. I don't think anyone will ever stop Chris founding companies. The saturation point comment was taken out of context. There are seven of us here striving to get to saturation point."

Ms Holt said Merlin aimed to get initial private funding for its companies within four to six months. After that Merlin would hope for just one more injection of venture capital before a public listing three to five years after launch.

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