Gosh, November seems to have vanished in a blur of fallen leaves, country walks (whatever the weather), freshly baked Christmas cakes and a lot of sitting at my desk – what about yours? 

November is also the first month in 2020 when I have no news of successful equity investments to share for the West of England region. There is just one company that has closed a round (according to our friends at Beauhurst) and this company hasn’t announced their raise publicly so I can’t tell you anything about it. Which raises the question, will this blog suffer from a classic case of style over substance? Habit over hard facts? Of course not. 

In lieu of any investment on our doorstep, I cast the net a little wider and found Redeemeum based in Taunton who announced a £270k funding round via crowdfunding. Read more.

In addition, there was a further £513k raised across 3 companies in the wider South West area which was not disclosed publicly. In a reflection of one of the biggest trends of 2020, two of these three deals benefited businesses that in some way relate to pets.

So, I might have limited equity investment news to share but I do have some great news from a fund perspective. Those of you that have followed the Quarterly Investment Briefing events that I’ve run over the last 3 years will know that there has been a long-running narrative about the need and opportunity for a local investment fund to support growing businesses in the region. If you wind back the years you’ll come across local fund related milestones including:

  • Eden Ventures based in Bath and London, made nearly 70 investments from a single fund after being founded in 2002. They have seen 15 exits so far.
  • Mike Jackson’s Webstart which supported 20 companies both with early-stage seed funding and mentorship when Engine Shed first opened in 2013.
  • Bristol Private Equity Club made their first investment in 2016 and have gone on to make over 20 more.
  • In 2016 Maven Capital Partners opened an office, the first for a VC that I know of, in Bristol. 
  • The University of Bristol has been deploying funds to over 10 companies since 2016 through its Enterprise Fund (managed by Parkwalk Advisors).
  • Over the last 4 years, I’ve had several conversations with potential fund providers but nothing has come to fruition, until now…

Just last week, Bristol Private Equity Club (BPEC) and Newable ventures announced a new fund which unlocks £10m of British Business Investments funds to support SMEs. Read more. 

I dearly hope that this will be the first of more similar announcements to come in 2021 – whether from the public or the private sector, particularly given the recent news that the Chancellor committed a further £100m to the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund just a few days ago. As Newable CEO Chris Manson says, the new South West funding “forms part of an exciting and ambitious drive to level up business investment across the UK and increase the amount of capital being invested into small British businesses at the core of our economy.” – There’s certainly still more work to do! Read more.

This article is written as part of the Investment Activator Programme (IAP) in the West of England. This programme is run by TechSPARK and is kindly sponsored by TLT LLP, delaware, Smith & Williamson, West of England Combined Authority, UWE, Sanderson, Engine Shed and Rocketmakers.

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