Early-stage Northern Ireland companies attracting higher levels of funding

  • Early-stage businesses in Northern Ireland are attracting larger equity funding rounds than in previous years.

    The £47.3m Co-Fund NI, managed by Clarendon Fund Managers, is an equity fund which provides growth capital to early stage, high-growth potential SMEs alongside lead private investors. 

    As part of Invest Northern Ireland’s Access to Finance suite of loan and equity funds, Co-Fund NI can provide co-investment in deals typically valued between £150,000 and £2m. To date they have invested in over 80 local firms.

    Clarendon announced today that in the 12 months to March 31, 2021, despite the impact of the pandemic, Co-Fund NI invested £7.5m in Northern Ireland businesses. 

    In addition to this there has been £13.2m of private investment in 37 funding rounds, bringing the total invested to over £31m. This has resulted in an overall investment of £174m when private match investment and leveraged funds are included.

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    In the same 12-month period, its portfolio companies raised £56m of investment, with 15 companies raising Series A funding rounds averaging £2.9m. This was almost double the average value of Series A rounds raised the year before.

    These included Cumulus Neuroscience raising £6m from DDF and Life Arc Science Fund, Neurovalens raising £5.2m from IQ Capital and Wharton and Cirdan Imaging raising £3.6m from existing shareholders and the Future Fund.  Innovative heart rate software company B-Secur has raised almost £8m in the first of half of the year, including $6m from a US-based fund.

    Brian Cummings, Investment Director at Clarendon Fund Managers, said:  “Demand for funding is high and the quality of the companies we are seeing coming through is increasing every year. It’s clear from some of the Series A funding rounds raised by Northern Ireland companies in our last financial year that a number of equity investors are starting to take notice of the potential in the region.”

    Mr.Cummings also added: “I would encourage others who aren’t already doing so to take a look at what’s emerging in Northern Ireland as we’d like to invest alongside more external investors.”

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    Just over a third (34%) of funds invested by Co-Fund NI have gone into tech and ICT companies, 31% went to life and health sciences, 14% to creative and digital firms, 11% to advanced manufacturing, materials and aerospace companies and 10% into businesses in food, drink, tourism and consumer goods.

    To support its increasing investment activity Co-Fund NI was topped up with £16m of fresh funding from Invest NI and British Business Investments, a commercial subsidiary of the British Business Bank. 

    Invest NI’s support is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme.

    Source: Written from press release.

    About the author

    Aoife is a Sync NI writer with a previous background working in print, online and broadcast media. She has a keen interest in all things tech related. To connect with Aoife feel free to send her an email or connect on LinkedIn.

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