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Empirical Ventures targeting £10M fund to lead early stage deep science rounds

Press release 04 April 2024

  • Emerging investors Dr. Johnathan Matlockand Dr. Ben Miles are a rare combination of scientist, entrepreneur, and investor, with track records in deep science scaling and investing in the UK
  • Empirical Ventures has received a £5 million commitment from British Business Investments Regional Angels Programme, to invest alongside the S/EIS Fund
  • Empirical Ventures will invest in early stage science-led startups that are redefining what is possible and solving some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity

Empirical Ventures is targeting a £10M fund to lead pre-seed and seed investments for deep science startups in the UK. Founded by two scientists turned entrepreneurs, Empirical Ventures will invest in startups that are redefining what is possible and solving some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity.

Empirical Ventures has already received a £5 million commitment from British Business Investments, through its Regional Angels Programme, to invest alongside Empirical Ventures’ new S/EIS Fund and its angel syndicate. Another £3.25M has been committed as a first close into the S/EIS fund by other investors. Empirical Ventures are active investors across the UK, with most of its investments taking place outside of London.

Dr. Benjamin Miles (PhD, Physics) and Dr. Johnathan Matlock (PhD, Chemistry), met at the University of Bristol spinout company, Ziylo Ltd, in 2016 where they were part of the core scientific team. Ziylo was later acquired by Novo Nordisk in a deal potentially worth over $800 million - one of the largest acquisitions of a UK spinout company.

Miles and Matlock have been very active in the UK’s deep science ecosystem, founding Science Angel Syndicate, which along with personal investments, has made over 65 investments totalling over £6 million in deep science companies. Miles also founded Spin Up Science in 2018, which has supported over 4,500 scientists in entrepreneurship and catalysed over 200 deeptech companies across the UK.

We want to back the most innovative and advanced startups that address not only the necessities we’re facing for the future - climate change, dwindling resources, accessible healthcare - but also startups that create new markets and possibilities based on technology no one has seen before. We’re looking forward to bringing our experience and contacts together to support these startups to achieve their maximum positive impact. Dr. Johnathan Matlock VC investor and cofounder at Empirical Ventures
We are looking at entirely new technologies driven by fundamental research. These startups have incredible potential, but are also very hard to diligence and value at the early stages, and that is hurting the ecosystem as a whole in the UK. We’re addressing that gap in the market by validating and funding the most exciting and novel technologies from the beginning, and helping the founders through their journeys based on our own experiences to make them into successful and significant companies. Dr. Ben Miles VC investor and co-founder at Empirical Ventures
We are excited to back Johnathan and Ben, who are addressing a large gap of undertaking significant due diligence in early-stage deep science investing which in turn increases angel involvement into this vital sector. This commitment highlights the Regional Angels Programme’s objectives of developing the early-stage funding ecosystem across the UK Nations and Regions, bringing together finance, business experience and skills to support the development of high-growth smaller businesses. Adam Kelly Managing Director, British Business Investments

Empirical Ventures has already invested in 18 companies across advanced materials, life sciences, robotics, and energy transition technologies, including startups like BaseImmune, Anaphite, CheMastery, Wase, Ensilicated Technologies, and QV Bioelectronics. Augmenting the team as venture partners are Hon. Alexander Fink and Dr Keith Lipman (PhD, Physics).

Notes to editors

About Empirical Ventures

Empirical Ventures leads pre-seed and seed rounds for deep science startups that are creating century-defining technologies. Co-founded by Dr. Ben Miles (physics) and Dr. Johnathan Matlock (chemistry), they have extensive experience as scientists, entrepreneurs, and investors, with 55 investments so far. They also sit on the board of 8 companies, who have collectively raised >£20m. The team are looking for exceptional science-led startups that are using the latest technological advances to solve some of the most pressing challenges facing society and our planet. Empirical fills a key need in the deeptech landscape in the UK by leading due diligence on deep science startups, helping to de-risk early stage investments for their investors and co-investors. The target is a £10M S/EIS fund and a side angel syndicate. Empirical Ventures operates as an appointed representative of SFC Capital Partners. For more information about Empirical Ventures and its mission, please visit Empirical Ventures.

About British Business Investments

British Business Investments Ltd is a wholly owned commercial subsidiary of British Business Bank plc, the UK government’s economic development bank. British Business Investments aims to earn a commercial return by investing – through finance providers – in smaller businesses and small mid-caps, pursuing investments on a fully commercial basis without receiving any economic advantage from the government. Find out more at

The Bank and its subsidiary entities are not banking institutions and do not operate as such. They are not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). A complete legal structure chart for British Business Bank plc and its subsidiaries can be found on the British Business Bank plc website.

The transaction described above does not constitute or imply any endorsement, warranty or recommendation by the UK government, the British Business Bank plc or its subsidiaries or any other party in respect of Empirical Ventures or its products or services.