How many ‘reflections on 2020’ blogs did you read over the festive period? If you’re anything like me, you probably avoided them all and focused instead on your own learnings from the year that I can only describe as being like a hamster on a wheel on a raft going down a rapid. 

Well, from an equity investment perspective 2020 ended on a jolly high note. There was some sparkling news about our first Bristol-based investment funds since Eden Ventures and we ended the year with some pretty punchy equity raises for companies across the early and later stages of growth, read on to find out more.

Sparkling Investment Fund News

  • Newable and BPEC announce significant fund news – Newable Ventures and Bristol Private Equity Club (BPEC) have secured £10m in new funding from British Business Investments, a commercial subsidiary of the British Business Bank, to fund early stage businesses across the UK.

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  • Science Creates Ventures announce a new EIS fund – Science Creates Ventures launches with its first fund, a £15 million venture capital fund offering start-up investment. The fund is supported and backed by successful Bristol-based entrepreneurs behind some of the South-West’s biggest deep tech exits. 

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Investment triumphs 

  • Graphcore secures $222m in their series E funding round – Graphcore, the Bristol based unicorn, has raised $222m of investment to help support the company’s continued global expansion and further accelerate future IPU silicon, systems and software development. 

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  • Brightpearl secures £33m series C funding –  Brightpearl, which allows retailers to streamline their operations thus boosting sales, has raised $33 million in funding to scale its business. Their Series C round was led by Sage, which has put $23 million into the U.K. company. 

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  • XCD HR secures £2m from BGF – Founded in 2011, XCD has grown to service 30,000 users across 35 countries. Headquartered in Bristol, the tech innovator has a growing workforce of more than 70 employees delivering world-leading, single solution HR and Payroll solutions for clients spanning not-for-profit, private and public sectors.

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  • Bath-based Living Map secures £850k – The digital map and data platform, LivingMap, has completed an £850,000 funding round led by existing investors Committed Capital and Mercia Asset Management. The funding will allow the Bath-based company to further enhance its technology and support the continued roll-out of its new service to guide passengers transferring between flights at airports.

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And there’s more…

A further 5 companies raised a little over £2.5 million between them in rounds that are as yet undisclosed. 

The Investment Activator Programme 

I write these updates every month because 8 great organisations have funded a 2 year pilot of the Investment Activator Programme – an initiative run by TechSPARK to support the growth and development of our equity investment ecosystem locally in the South West. Our activities include events for investors, data wrangling to support founders to find investors, pitch development support and pitch competitions. 

Over 2020 the Investment Activator Programme directly supported over 120 companies through our flagship activities. Nearly 80 companies submitted their one page executive summary for investors attending the Quarterly Investment Briefing events, over 130 companies applied to participate in Silicon Gorge and over 20 received thoughtful feedback on their pitch at our PitchMe lunchtime sessions. 

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. Find out more about the IAP: 

If you are an investor and you would like to receive the regular newsletter and event invitations for the QIB, please find more information and sign up: 

And finally, if you are raising investment for your business and you would like to submit your one page proposition for the next QIB event, please find more information at the bottom of this page: 

Briony Phillips

Briony is Scaleup Lead at Rocketmakers, a software development agency that designs, develops and deploys technology for startups, scaleups and corporations. Briony champions the scale-up business ecosystem and works with partners across the public and private sector to deliver content, events and resources that help to overcome challenges faced by fast-growth companies such as access to investment and office space availability.