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The Institution of Mechanical Engineers' Stephenson Fund, which provides seed capital for innovative engineering start-ups, has seen the value of its investment portfolio double to £2.9 million thanks to the strong performance of the companies that it has backed.

Recent funding rounds for companies the Fund has invested in have shown an increase in the valuation of these firms ranging from 33% to 150%, leading to a rise in the value of the Fund’s portfolio to £2.9 million, up from an invested cost of £1.4 million.

“This impressive performance by the Stephenson Fund underlines the strength of the engineering companies IMechE has chosen to invest in. We are proud to be able to provide support for the development of world-class mechanical engineering technology in the UK,” said Stephen Tetlow, CEO of IMechE.

“The Fund fulfils the Institution’s original purpose to give an impulse to invention and also help companies overcome the investment hurdle from research and development to bringing a product to market.”

IMechE is the only UK professional engineering institution to have this type of fund to support small engineering companies to develop their products to their full potential.

The companies the Fund has invested in highlight the excellence of engineering regionally in the UK, with these firms developing market-leading technology which will make a real difference to the world.

The highlight of the Fund’s portfolio is Oxford-based Tokamak Energy where the recent funding round valued the company at £160 million, compared with £60 million when the Fund made its investment.

The company hit the headlines this week with the exciting news that it has moved a step closer to achieving nuclear fusion, which would revolutionise power generation.

Tokamak announced that it has achieved plasma temperatures of over 15 million degrees Celsius, hotter than the centre of the sun.

IMechE’s Commercial and Investments Board, which oversees the Fund, agreed earlier this year to invest a further £200,000 in three other promising portfolio companies – Oxford Space Systems, Proxisense and Utonomy.

Oxford Space Systems is an award-winning space technology business that is pioneering the development of a new generation of deployable antennas and structures that are lighter, less complex and cheaper than those currently used commercially. The company, whose CEO Mike Lawton is a former IMechE Young Engineer of the Year, has a large number of space companies lining up to partner with it.

Fleet-based Proxisense specialises in advanced sensors, diagnostics and optimisation systems.

Utonomy, which is based at the University of Southampton Science Park, is a sustainability start-up focused on reducing methane waste.

It has developed a solution to optimise the pressure in the gas distribution networks. The company’s aim is to reduce leakage of methane, a greenhouse gas, from gas networks and thereby make a significant impact on climate change.