The UK’s Business Growth Fund expands to Ireland

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  • Business Growth Fund (BGF), a £2.5 billion UK-based venture capital firm that invests in startups and SMEs across both Great Britain and Northern Ireland, has expanded its investment operations to the Republic of Ireland and appointed a new investment director in Dublin to begin identifying potential Irish startups.

    Leo Casey will be based in Dublin but will work closely with Business Growth Fund’s UK-based team until the firm hires more staff for its Irish office. He explained his firm’s decision to expand to Ireland: “Irish SMEs need access to more patient sources of funding to support growth. BGF has a proven record of making investments in SME businesses. Its model of investing combines long-term funding with a minority partnership which is particularly attractive to entrepreneurs who do not want to lose control of their business. I am delighted to be joining the team, helping to both establish and strengthen BGF’s presence in the Irish market.”

    BGF, which offers startups long-term equity funding in exchange for a minority stake in order to help them scale up, has already invested in a few Irish companies, including Escher Group, a Dublin-headquartered software development company, and Renegade Spirits Ireland, a whiskey distillery based in Waterford.

    BGF has invested more than £1.2 billion in startups and SMEs since it was founded by five of the UK’s largest banks (Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Chartered) in 2011. In the UK the firm was ranked as the country’s most active investor last year, and it was also ranked as the seventh most active investor in the world by number of transactions.

    Stephen Welton, CEO of Business Growth Fund, said: “We recognise the significant opportunity to help more of Ireland’s ambitious smaller and mid-sized companies become bigger businesses and in turn, encourage greater economic activity. We are very excited about this potential over the long term and look forward to working alongside Ireland’s existing funding community more closely, stimulating greater investment just as we have done in the UK. We also think this a timely moment to forge stronger trade links between Irish and UK SMEs.”

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