Business news

High demand for Co-Fund NI investment in second quarter of 2022

Stuart Gaffikin, investment manager at Clarendon Fund Managers

DEMAND for funding from early-stage businesses in Northern Ireland remains strong, with more than 20 co-investment deals closed in the second quarter of this year, according to the managers of the Co-Fund NI co-investment fund.

Managed by Clarendon Fund Managers, the £47.3m Co-Fund NI equity fund provides growth capital to high-growth potential SMEs alongside lead private investors.

Part of Invest NI’s Access to Finance suite of loan and equity funds and also supported by British Business Investments, the commercial arm of the British Business Bank, it can provide co-investment in deals typically valued between £150,000 and £2m. To date it has invested in 95 local firms.

Clarendon said that among the completion of over 20 investments that closed before the end of June are a high number of follow-on investments and nine transactions with companies who are securing investment from Co-Fund NI for the first time.

The total value of the deals closed in the quarter was £15m, with overall funding rounds ranging from £150,000 to £2m. Co-Fund NI invested a total of £4.8m in the deals, matching £7.9m of investment by private investors.

Among those companies to have secured investments were insuretech firm Broker IQ, life sciences spin-out Vascversa, e-commerce retail business Haru, bioinformatics business Sonrai Analytics, medtech firm Sapien and The Boatyard Distillery.

Clarendon Fund Managers said the demand for investment to support local businesses demonstrates how important it is to continue to have an available supply of equity finance.

Stuart Gaffikin, investment manager at Clarendon Fund Managers, said: “Even as we are seeing a number of reports suggesting there has been a slowdown in investment across the UK and Ireland, Co-Fund NI has seen very strong demand from high-quality, fast-growing companies.

“It continues to play a vital role in funding Northern Ireland’s high potential businesses through co-investment alongside business angels and other private investors, which is essential to helping them to scale and accelerate growth outside Northern Ireland.

“It’s been apparent to us over the past couple of years that an increasing number of large equity funds and private investors have recognised the calibre of companies emerging from the region and they are starting to make significant investments here.

“But these Series A investors won’t be attracted to invest in companies here unless local funds like Co-Fund NI and private investors put their money in first, as this earlier stage funding helps prepare the companies and de-risk them for the bigger investors. Sustaining the provision of local equity funding is therefore essential for our economy.”

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