Global spatial ecology of three closely-related gadfly petrels

first_imgThe conservation status and taxonomy of the three gadfly petrels that breed in Macaronesia is still discussed partly due to the scarce information on their spatial ecology. Using geolocator and capture-mark-recapture data, we examined phenology, natal philopatry and breeding-site fidelity, year-round distribution, habitat usage and at-sea activity of the three closely-related gadfly petrels that breed in Macaronesia: Zino’s petrel Pterodroma madeira, Desertas petrel P. deserta and Cape Verde petrel P. feae. All P. feae remained around the breeding area during their non-breeding season, whereas P. madeira and P. deserta dispersed far from their colony, migrating either to the Cape Verde region, further south to equatorial waters in the central Atlantic, or to the Brazil Current. The three taxa displayed a clear allochrony in timing of breeding. Habitat modelling and at-sea activity patterns highlighted similar environmental preferences and foraging behaviours of the three taxa. Finally, no chick or adult was recaptured away from its natal site and survival estimates were relatively high at all study sites, indicating strong philopatry and breeding-site fidelity for the three taxa. The combination of high philopatry, marked breeding asynchrony and substantial spatio-temporal segregation of their year-round distribution suggest very limited gene flow among the three taxa.last_img read more

Midshipmen Board USS Gettysburg for Summer Training

first_img View post tag: americas Back to overview,Home naval-today Midshipmen Board USS Gettysburg for Summer Training View post tag: board June 16, 2014 View post tag: Midshipmen Authorities View post tag: Naval The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile Cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64) is currently hosting 14 midshipmen during their summer training. View post tag: Navycenter_img View post tag: News by topic View post tag: USS Gettysburg The midshipmen have been aboard for several underway periods, experiencing numerous evolutions as the ship conducted its readiness evaluation and supported helicopter squadron deck landing qualifications. During their time at sea, they were able to observe and participate in live weapons fire exercises, small boat operations, man overboard drills, flight operations, navigation, engineering drills, and generally explore the ship while fully experiencing Navy life.“It has been an incredible experience being aboard Gettysburg,” said Midshipman 1st Class Leshawn Charles, from Savannah State University, in Savannah, Georgia. “The ship has been very active so we’ve been able to see so many things. Everyone has been very welcoming and willing to answer all of our questions.”Each summer, midshipmen who are a part of a Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) program or the U.S. Naval Academy embark on U.S. Navy ships around the world to gain experience and be actively engaged in day-to-day operations. They spend time with either a junior officer or enlisted mentor, depending on their rank, in order to gain an appreciation for what their careers will be like upon graduation.During their stay on board Gettysburg, homeported in Mayport, the midshipmen also spent time with the commanding officer, executive officer, chief petty officers and junior officers in mentoring sessions where they were free to discuss whatever topics or questions they had.[mappress]Press Release, June 16, 2014; Image: Wikimedia View post tag: Training Midshipmen Board USS Gettysburg for Summer Training View post tag: Summer Share this articlelast_img read more

New data reveals suspension gender gap among postgrads

first_imgWithdrawals are when a student completely withdraws from their programme of study. This does not include those that have been transferred to a different programme of study. The overall suspension rate for all postgraduate students has also increased year on year from 2013/14 to 2016/17 from 5.98% to 7.93%, although there was a slight decrease last year to 7.5%. The withdrawal rate has remained con-sistent at about 1.5%, peaking in 2013/14 at1.82%. “Girls and women are also taught froman early age to internalise ‘unbecoming’emotions, such as anger, frustration andhopelessness. The report added that the lower take up ofprovision could be due to cultural differences.In 2016/17, 64% of graduates were non-UKstudents. A History Masters student at St Catherine’s, Hannah Grange-Sales, told Cherwell: “Women are conditioned to believe they are less intelligent than men, therefore there is both a real and imagined need to work harderto be considered men’s intellectual equals. “The increased pressure for women toprove themselves intellectually coupled withthe internalisation of emotion can surely beconsidered a factor in the higher rate of men-tal health issues amongst female students.” There was also a marked contrast betweenthose on research and taught postgraduatedegrees, with the former having consistentlyhigher levels of suspension and withdrawal.In 2016/17 just under 10% of research gradu-ates suspended their studies compared to 6%of taught graduates. This gure decreasedslightly to 9% last year. A spokesperson for the University told Cherwell: “These numbers are relatively low so we should be careful about drawing conclusions from them without understanding the context. We offer high levels of academic and pastoral support to our graduate students through their departments, colleges and central University services. Oxford SU VP for Graduates, AlisonD’Ambrosia told Cherwell: “It is a ticking timebomb the issue of graduate student welfare.With a huge increase in graduate numbersover the past several years, we have seenminimal investment in their welfare provi-sion and support. New data shows that 8.7% of female postgraduates suspended their studies in 2016/17, one-third higher than the rate for men (6.5%). center_img “There are many reasons why a student’sstatus might be suspended, includinghealth, maternity or paternity, personalcircumstances, academic dif culties anddisciplinary matters. Suspension is oftena voluntary decision by a student, and inmost cases students return from periods ofsuspension to successfully complete theircourse.” “Considering the historic argument against women’s right to education that they do not hold the mental rigour to undertake study, there is a double pressure to overcome this stigma and maintain a facade of capability when, for a variety of personal reasons not linked to their intellect, this may not be the case. The data, obtained from the University byCherwell, reveals a consistent gender dispar-ity in suspension and withdrawal rates overthe previous 8 years. The gender discrepancy was mirrored inwithdrawal rates, which were 1.37% for mencompared to 1.64% for women. “From a counselling service that is only open during term time to students been pushed from college to department to seek help, more needs to be done to properly support the graduate student body. It seems that the first call of action is for students to suspend rather than tackle the causes of suspension and offer proper support for students.” According to the SU’s recently publishedcounselling report, postgraduate studentswere proportionally less likely to seek helpthan undergraduates, with 10.8% of post-graduate researchers and 9.2% of taughtstudents receiving counselling to 12.3% ofundergraduates. Cherwell understands that the disparity in the figures could be due to the length of postgraduate research degree, which are typically three years. Taught degrees can be as short as 9 months, meaning that there is less opportunity for students to suspend or withdraw from their studies. Just under 52% of enrolments in 2017/18 were in taught degrees. graph by Simon Hunt Suspensions are when a single studentpauses their study during a given year, withone student potentially accruing multiplesuspension ‘counts’, in the rare event thatthey do so more than once.last_img read more

Local Taxes Stay Stable in 2019 Budget

first_imgMembers of City Council study details of the proposed 2019 municipal budget during their meeting. By Donald WittkowskiIn a meeting dominated by financial matters, City Council on Thursday night introduced a municipal budget that keeps local property taxes stable and also introduced two bond ordinances that will fund millions of dollars in capital improvements throughout Ocean City.Council also adopted Mayor Jay Gillian’s proposed five-year capital plan, a sweeping blueprint for $108.3 million in infrastructure projects stretching from the bay to the Boardwalk to the beaches. Projects in the capital plan will be funded on a yearly cycle, not $108.3 million in one, massive chunk of money.The capital plan calls for nearly $33.3 million worth of projects in 2019. Big-ticket items planned for this year include a total of $6 million in road and drainage upgrades, $3 million for dredging along the back bays, $2 million for beach replenishment and $2.1 million in improvements to the historic Music Pier, the city’s main concert venue.Construction projects to fulfill the city’s affordable housing obligations are another major part of the 2019 capital plan. In total, the city plans to spend $6.6 million to build or rehabilitate affordable housing sites for senior citizens and low-income families.Affordable housing will be concentrated at the Bayview Manor and Peck’s Beach Village housing developments managed by the Ocean City Housing Authority.Bayview Manor is slated for $2.7 million in rehabilitation work in 2019. Part of the flood-prone Peck’s Beach Village site will be demolished and replaced with a new 33-unit affordable housing project for senior citizens next to Bayview Manor.The city is financing the affordable housing projects in partnership with the Ocean City Housing Authority. The authority plans to contribute $4.2 million in funding using a federal Hurricane Sandy recovery grant.Bayview Manor at Sixth Street and West Avenue will play a major role in the city’s affordable housing plan.In the first round of financing to get some of the capital projects underway, Council introduced two bond ordinances Thursday, one for $7.9 million and the other for $6.6 million. The one for $6.6 million will finance the affordable housing projects.With so much money at stake in the capital plan, Michael Hinchman, the former president of the local government watchdog group Fairness In Taxes, renewed his call for the city to hire consulting experts to help it manage its construction projects.“I don’t know that you have any oversight,” Hinchman said in public remarks to Council.The mayor defended the city’s spending practices and construction projects, saying there is plenty of oversight. He said the city has worked well with local utility companies on a series of major projects.“Between the gas, the water, the electric and doing the roads, we are a great team,” Gillian said.Meanwhile, Council also introduced the city’s proposed 2019 operating budget on Thursday. The $78.9 million spending plan keeps the local tax rate the same.For the owner of a typical home assessed at $675,000, the annual local property tax bill will be about $3,100. The figure does not include county or school taxes, said Frank Donato, the city’s chief financial officer.Frank Donato, the city’s chief financial officer, gives a detailed presentation on the 2019 budget to Council.The city’s finances have been strengthened by its growing tax base, including $133 million in new ratables this year alone, Donato said. The city’s total tax base is now $11.8 billion, the third largest among New Jersey’s municipalities.“We’re in a good pattern in the past five years of sustainable growth,” Donato told Council.Donato also noted that the city is benefiting from a new arrangement for retirement healthcare costs that will save more than $2.2 million this year.“It was a huge win for the city this year,” he said of the healthcare savings.Donato gave Council a detailed presentation on the budget. The governing body will scrutinize the spending plan in coming weeks before it holds a public hearing and takes a final vote.Council President Peter Madden said he believes taxpayers will approve of the budget because it keeps the local tax rate stable while funding an array of capital projects across the island.“I think they’re going to like it,” Madden said in an interview after the meeting. “Taxes aren’t going up. I also think they’ll approve of the amount of work that is being done at very little cost to the taxpayers.”The mayor’s 2019 budget address is available online at www.ocnj.us/finance. The five-year capital plan is available at www.ocnj.us/projects.last_img read more

Maple Leaf to invest £11.5m in bagel growth

first_imgNew York Bakery Co has secured an £11.5m investment package from parent company Maple Leaf Bakery UK to expand the business, following increasing bagel sales.Its existing Rotherham factory will be extended to increase capacity, which will see it become the largest bagel factory in Europe, according to the firm.The announcement comes only a week after Maple Leaf revealed it would be closing its Walsall site, which manufactures sliced bread, to concentrate on the growth of its speciality bread product brands, such as New York Bakery Co.Following a 66% increase in sales since the relaunch New York Bakery Co’s bagel range in January, the firm is to invest £11.5m in the infrastructure of the business, and has also been allocated a £3m communications budget.The firm said its UK expansion plans will further strengthen the brand’s category leadership; it already holds a 76% market share.According New York Bakery Co, its bagel relaunch was the biggest value contributor to the morning goods category this year, adding over £8m in incremental sales since the beginning of this year (Nielsen Scantrack Value Sales Ytd 09/07/11).Simon Foster, VP marketing of Maple Leaf Bakery UK, said: “The significant backing by Maple Leaf will enable us to move forward with our ambitious expansion plans in the next five to 10 years. As a result we can now increase our capacity at our Rotherham site to meet growing consumer demand and support our growth aspirations as the market leader in speciality bagels.”>>Maple Leaf closes bakery despite increase in profits>>Profits up 3% for Maple Leaf Bakery UKlast_img read more

Epstein-Barr Virus implicated as a cause of MS

first_imgResearchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, Walter Reed ArmyInstitute of Research, and a team of collaborators have observed forthe first time that the risk of multiple sclerosis (MS) increases bymany folds following infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Thisfinding implicates EBV as a contributory cause to multiple sclerosis.The study was published in an advance online edition of the journal Annalsof Neurology and will appear in a later print edition.Hundred of thousands of individuals not infected with EBV werefollowed up for several years through repeated blood samplescollections. Researchers were then able to determine the time whenindividuals developed an EBV infection and its relation to MS onset.“The recruitment of individuals before they were infected with EBV andfollowing up with them for several years is the critical methodologicalaspect that makes this study qualitatively different from all previouswork,” said AlbertoAscherio, senior author of the study and professor of epidemiologyand nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and professor ofmedicine at Harvard Medical School.MS is a chronic degenerative disease of the central nervous system.Women are more likely than men to get the disease and it is the mostcommon neurologically disabling disease in young adults. Althoughgenetic predisposition plays an important role in determiningsusceptibility, past studies have shown that environmental factors areequally important.EBV is a herpes virus and one of the most common human virusesworldwide. Infection in early childhood is common and usuallyasymptomatic. Late age at infection, however, often causes infectiousmononucleosis. In the U.S., upwards of 95% of adults are infected withthe virus, but free of symptoms. EBV has been associated with some typesof cancer and can cause serious complications when the immune system issuppressed, for example, in transplant recipients. There is noeffective treatment for EBV.This is the first study based on the longitudinal follow-up ofseveral thousand individuals who were not infected with EBV at the timeof recruitment. The study population was made up of active-duty US Army,Navy, and Marines personnel who have at least one blood sample in theDepartment of Defense Serum Repository. The electronic databases of thePhysical Disability Agencies of the US Army and Navy were then searchedfor individuals whose records indicated a possible diagnosis of MSreported between 1992 and 2004.The researchers selected 305 individuals diagnosed with MS and whohad blood specimens collected before the date of their diagnosis. Twocontrols for each case were then selected from the serum database andmatched by branch of service, sex, date of blood collection, and age attime of blood collection.The study found that MS risk is extremely low amongindividuals not infected with EBV, but it increases sharply in the sameindividuals following EBV infection.“The observation that MS occurred only after EBV is a big stepforward,” said Alberto Ascherio. “Until now we knew that virtually allMS patients are infected with EBV, but we could not exclude twonon-causal explanations for this finding: that EBV infection is aconsequence rather than a cause of MS, and that individuals who are EBVnegative could be genetically resistant to MS. Both of theseexplanations are inconsistent with the present findings,” said Ascherio.“The evidence is now sufficiently compelling to justify theallocation of more resources to the development of interventionstargeting EBV infection, or the immune response to EBV infection, asthese may contribute to MS prevention,” he said.The study was supported by a grant from the National Institute ofNeurological Disorders and Stroke.last_img read more

From scorched lot to library park

first_img Inquisitive minds Ava Healy raises her hand during the Library Park Construction Club’s question-and-answer session held at the Honan-Allston Branch Library. Field work The children make an oval to mark a design on the park site. Library Park Construction Club Mapping the future Benjamin Ciliberto carries the park’s designs across the barren lot. It’s an exclusive club. Membership is hard to come by. Besides, it’s a lot of work.Make that fun.The Library Park Construction Club, an enthusiastic group of 7- to 10-year-olds, is taking the hands-on approach to watching its beloved Honan-Allston Branch Library get a facelift.About 20 kids braved the afternoon’s heat yesterday (July 7) to visit their neighborhood library and take part in an interactive session that took them beyond the storied stacks of the library and into a vacant field behind it.The field — a 1.74-acre of sun-scorched grass where a concrete plant used to sit — is about to become an inviting oasis of green through the creation of Library Park, slated to open next year. Construction is scheduled to begin next week with the help of Harvard University, its landscape architects and designers, and, of course, those local experts.“Is it going to be like a playground?” asked one eager child as designers Dennis Swinford and Emily Mueller De Celis showed the club architectural plans, including aerial photographs. “Is there going to be a fountain?” another asked. The park will be sort of like a playground, said Swinford, and there will be a fountain, the Harvard planner enthused. What’s a park without one?“A park and a library work really well together,” said Mueller De Celis, a senior associate at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. “We wanted to think about spaces where you could go and read a book.”“A lot of people said the back part of the library isn’t that pretty,” said Swinford referring to feedback received from the community during the park design process. “So there will be flowers everywhere. This is going to be a special park.”“There’ll be lots of trees, flowering trees like dogwoods, and multicolored plants,” added Mueller De Celis.The park’s plans paint it as a large green space, with a hill, winding paths, seating, and open lawns for reading and gatherings. A rain garden is even incorporated, a dedicated area where all rainwater is collected into a stream that will feed plant systems thriving on wet roots.Children’s librarian Sherry Eskin sees great potential in Library Park. “I think the park will provide a great educational space for story time and other programming. The library has a few courtyards, but it’s good to have more.”Swinford and Mueller De Celis invited the club outside to imagine what the field will soon become. With a map of the future park, the kids used landscape markers to flag landmarks like the event lawn and an outdoor classroom.This was the club’s first of six weekly sessions designed to introduce the children not only to the park, but to teach them about soil, trees, and other design and construction elements.Friends Kristian Eskew and Ricky Ciliberto were excited about their new stomping ground. “We’ll come here often,” said Eskew.“We just like to hang out and have fun,” added Ciliberto.Nearly all of the kids were imagining big future plans for the park’s use.“In this new park, I hope there’s lots of shade because it’s hot,” said 8-year-old Ava Healy. “The rain garden sounds really fun because I want to go in. And I might roll down the hill, and maybe I’ll read a book on the hill.”The sessions take place Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m. at the Honan-Allston Branch Library through Aug. 11. Sign up in advance by calling 617.496.6688, or e-mail [email protected] Building a Park 101 Emily Mueller De Celis (from left) and Dennis Swinford share park designs with the children. Board meeting During a presentation that shows the architectural plans for Library Park, the children discuss the merits of having a park on library grounds. Junior park planners Emily Mueller De Celis (left) tours the park site with the children. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographerlast_img read more

Quick Hits: December’s News from the Blue Ridge and Beyond

first_imgKentucky: Bode Trading Skis for HoovesWe’ll soon be seeing Bode Miller at the Derby instead of the Winter Olympics. During a recent interview on In Depth with Graham Bensinger, Miller revealed that he’s planning to become a horse trainer when his skiing career is over. The move was sparked by Miller’s friendship with well-known trainer Bob Baffert, who’s led multiple horses to Kentucky Derby wins. Baffert and Miller already own horses together, and Miller said he’s in the process of buying a training facility in Kentucky to begin his equestrian pursuits in earnest.Hike the A.T., Paddle the Mississippi Jared McCallum is having quite an adventure. The 28-year-old former Marine has been trying to figure out what to do with his life after an honorable discharge in 2009. Earlier this year, he decided to take a break from his work as a civilian security contractor in Afghanistan to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. After spending five months completing the famous 2,185-mile footpath, he decided he wasn’t quite ready to head home to Florida. Instead he’s working his way south slowly, paddling the entire Mississippi River—2,340 miles from Minnesota to Louisiana—in a canoe. Sporting a Forrest Gump-style beard with his dog Scout by his side, McCallum recently told Illinois’ Quad-City Times that he anticipates finishing around Christmas, and along the way he’s enjoyed some river magic, due to the kindness of others. “Someone let me camp in their front yard,” he told the paper. “You can’t do this kind of thing without the good people of America like that.”Dulles, Virginia: That Kid Is FastEarlier this fall, 9-year-old Caleb Hymans of Annandale, Va., ran quite a race at the Dulles Day on the Runway, finishing the 5K in 18:47. His time posted at the D.C.-area airport was certified by the Association of Road Race Statisticians as a world record for his age. “It was really cool,” Caleb told The Washington Post, “with all the airplanes flying overhead.”Berlin, Pennsylvania: Bug Spray Repels RobberDon’t mess with Annabelle Miller. The store clerk at Berlin’s CSI Coalfield Mini market recently proved she has uses for bug spray beyond keeping skeeters away. Miller grabbed a can when a masked would-be robber entered her store and demanded money. A surveillance video shows Miller instead giving the female crook a big dose of insecticide, which led to her retreat from the store. Miller later told a local news station, “I just got mad. I’ve got better things to do with my night than that.”Beyond the Blue RidgeGrand Prairie, Texas: Indoor Skiing in TexasThe Texas heat usually doesn’t bring skiing to mind, but in mid-October, city officials in Grand Prairie announced plans to build a 350,000-square-foot indoor skiing facility. CBS had the skinny on the $215 million joint project being called The Grand Alps Resort, which will be home to the longest indoor ski run in the world at 1,220 feet in length and 300 feet tall. The resort, attached to a 300-room luxury hotel, will also feature an Olympic half pipe, an ice climbing wall, and a luge track. The indoor ski resort has a tentative opening date of early 2018.Colorado Springs, Colorado: Changing Gears in Bike RacingIn October, USA Cycling revealed the 2015 national championship calendar and it featured some noticeable changes. First up is the addition of the inaugural Fat Bike National Championship, which will take big wheelers through a snowy course in Ogden, Utah, on Valentine’s Day. A big southern race—the USA Cycling Professional Criterium and Team Time Trial National Championships—will return to Greenville, S.C., with the time trial component as a new addition, as well as a new spring date (April 18-19). Soon after, young racers in the USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships will ride through the streets of Asheville, N.C., from May 8-10. Back in South Carolina, Rock Hill will host two events this year: the USA Cycling BMX National Championships on March 21 and the USA Cycling Masters Track National Championships from July 21-26. Not on the docket this year: a 24-hour mountain biking national championship, due to declining participation in the discipline.Peoria, Illinois: Cemetery 5KOwners of the Springdale Cemetery in Central Illinois are getting creative with their marketing initiatives. In an effort to encourage people to buy burial lots, the cemetery recently began hosting a series of 5K races to showcase the property’s scenery. “We know if we get people back into the cemetery, they’re going to be amazed at its beauty,” Bob Manning, chairman of the cemetery management authority, said in a story by the Associated Press. “Then, hopefully, they’ll think of us when time comes.”last_img read more

Independent Scotland could have ‘fresh start’ in pensions regulation

first_imgThe government said it would continue with auto-enrolment, set up an equivalent to a National Employment Savings Trust (NEST), maintain the protection provided by the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) and set up its own pensions regulator, albeit mimicking the current UK system.However, Wilson said: “There would be an opportunity for an independent Scotland to consolidate and codify all the rules and regulations around workplace pensions and, at the very least, not have the same number of pages we have to grapple with at a UK level.”Malcolm Paul, chairman of JLT Employee Benefits Scotland, agreed, saying the Scottish system could begin with a “fresh start”.He said an independent Scotland would also be free to decide to use one regulator for workplace pensions compared with the two currently used in the UK, a system often criticised.“One potential advantage of independence would be the fresh start,” he said. “Scotland could take the best ideas rather than being hamstrung by what is already in place.”The independent country would also not face as many hurdles in setting up a government-backed pension provider used within auto-enrolment, he said. The UK faced a long legal battle with the European Commission over the creation of NEST, as it contravened rules on state aid for companies operating in a private sector market.Eventually, it was agreed the UK government could loan NEST funding, which would have to be paid off over a number of years, with restrictions placed on NEST’s operations.Wilson said a Scottish NEST would not face as many hurdles, nor would it need such significant financing.“One would think a Scottish NEST would not need the same amount of set-up funds, but the mechanism could be comparable to NEST,” he said. “Scotland would not automatically be a member of the European Union, so it could provide state aid to any business it saw fit to.“But the government would need to consider its aspirations, which is to be a European Union member state.”Aside from creating a new regulatory regime, further detailed information on the future of Scotland’s financial systems remains illusive.Lawyers previously warned that defined benefit members were at risk of losing pension protection over issues arising from setting up a lifeboat fund in an independent Scotland. A ‘yes’ vote on Thursday’s referendum to determine whether Scotland will leave the United Kingdom could see a newly formed Scottish pensions industry being regulated by a simpler and more digestible set of rules, consultants have said.JLT Employee Benefits head of technical John Wilson said independence and the need to create and copy an entire regulatory system would allow Scotland to “consolidate and codify” rules and regulations around workplace pensions.The debate comes as the vote on independence nears, with residents of Scotland expected to take to the polls on 18 September.The current Scottish government and other advocates for independence set out their plans for a future Scottish pensions industry in a paper published in September 2013.last_img read more

Berkshire invests in commercialisation of UK university research

first_imgThe UK’s £1.9bn (€2.3bn) Royal County of Berkshire Pension Fund is to invest £15m in a new fund aiming to direct institutional capital into the commercialisation of UK university research.The local authority pension fund committed the £15m to the British Innovation Fund (BIF), launched on 1 December by Future Planet Capital and Milltrust International Group.The fund has received commitments of £30m so far.Berkshire pension fund, administered by the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead (RBWM), is making the investment as part of a broader overhaul of its private equity portfolio, according to Nick Greenwood, pension fund manager of RBWM and chair of the BIF Investment Committee. The private equity portfolio has been redesigned to focus on three core themes, one of which is technology, he said.“We considered a range of investment possibilities in the US, South East Asia and elsewhere before deciding to focus on the UK university sector, which represents a massive un-tapped opportunity,” said Greenwood.“The valuations are also more attractive in the UK than they would be in Silicon Valley, and the investment industry around university research is less well-developed.”BIF recently secured a stake in Oxford Sciences Innovation as part of a £230m funding round for the firm, in which investors such as the Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek and the Oman Investment Fund also participated.It plans to acquire other stake in companies focused on the commercialisation of UK university research and invest directly in start-ups reaching growth stage.The fund is structured as an Irish Collective Asset Vehicle (ICAV).Greenwood said the fund’s evergreen structure made it “a better fit” for this type of investment than the traditional venture capital model.“A standard VC fund has a fixed lifespan, forcing inefficient exits and liquidation of stakes in companies that are still being developed,” he said.“An ICAV structure gives us the opportunity to nurture investments appropriately.”Future Planet and Milltrust Agricultural Investments (MAI), a subsidiary of Milltrust International Group, are the sub-advisers to the new fund.The investment committee will also include members of the Future Planet and Milltrust Agricultural Investments teams, including Douglas Hansen-Luke, chair of Future Planet, and Griff Williams, CIO and co-founder of MAI.Hansen-Luke said there was “huge potential” for intellectual property commercialisation in the UK university sector, and that £400m in new long-term funding provided by the British Business Bank showed the UK government had recognised this gap.Simon Hopkins, chief executive at Milltrust International Group, said the BIF provided “a direct response” to concerns that Brexit would jeopardise funding for the development and subsequent commercialisation of research output from leading UK universities. Future Planet is a company aiming to build a “global university platform”, providing access to investment in top innovation centres. Milltrust is a global investment organisation located in Singapore and London, offering investment advice focused on emerging markets, liquid investments and real assets investments. During 2015-16, Berkshire pension fund increased its exposure to private debt and private equity funds – for example, in new emerging market infrastructure but also UK middle-market infrastructure and other private market investments in the UK, such as the private rented sector, private debt and technology.last_img read more