Equity investment in smaller NI firms 'increased by 240 per cent in 2021'

Smaller firms in the north raised £88m from equity deals last year, according to the report from the British Business Bank.

EQUITY investment in smaller businesses around Northern Ireland increased by 240 per cent in 2021, according to a new report from the British Business Bank (BBB).

The body, which acts as the UK government’s economic development bank, said a record £88 million was invested in smaller firms here last year.

Its annual Small Business Equity Tracker, published today, includes 39 deals announced in 2021, a 44 per cent increase on 2020.

The report is built around the research from data firm Beauhurst, which tracks fundraising in the business world. While it focuses on publicly announced deals, not all equity deals are put into the public domain.

The BBB said UK wide, equity finance in smaller companies also reached record levels in 2021, with the value of announced deals more than doubling from £8.8 billion in 2020 to £18.1bn last year.

Although on a much smaller scale, the rate of growth in Northern Ireland was well above the growth rate for the UK as a whole.

The north’s tech businesses continued to perform strongest when it came to raising private equity. Tech funding deals in 2021 reached £29.5m, almost double the £16m from 2020.

The Bank’s UK network director for Northern Ireland, Susan Nightingale said: “This has been a record-breaking year in Northern Ireland, as more smaller businesses turn to equity investment to help them realise their growth ambitions.

“It is encouraging to see the business and professional services sector securing this level of equity investment. These businesses demonstrated agility as we emerged from the pandemic, with some evolving their business models in line with

new economic landscapes to help their clients plot their recovery.

“Northern Ireland is a great place to do business. It has exceptional talent and is a cost-effective place with lower operating costs than other areas of the UK.

“These are core reasons why it has developed into a real hub for smaller tech businesses, and I can see a similar upward trajectory for the services sector.”

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