Business

Investment in tech firms rises to record £143m in 2023

Venture capital activity in NI remains resilient, boosted by follow-on investments, says Catalyst Deal Tracker

Catalyst
Kieran Dalton, head of scaling at Catalyst, with head of entrepreneurship Pauline Timoney

Investment into technology firms in the north has reached its highest-ever level in 2023 at £143.2 million, according to the latest data from tech hub Catalyst.

Its annual Deal Tracker report has revealed that the money was invested across 72 deals, with an average investment of just under £2m.

This compared to a total of £139m in 2022 across 89 deals, with an average investment of £1.6m.

Catalyst has tracked innovation investment in Northern Ireland since 2017 and reviews each investment to ensure the accuracy of reporting in the local market.

In 2023, there were seven deals reaching a value of more than £5m while there were 23 deals in the £1m-£5m category, 12 transactions of £500,000 to £1m, eight worth £250,000 to £500,000 and 22 sub-£250,000 deals

The report noted that many of the larger deals in the year were follow-on investments from existing investors who were willing to back existing positions, including a number of investments by UK Future Fund.

There were also a notable number of investments, including rounds up to £5m, completed by groups of local private investors and business angels.



There was also a notable rise in investment into companies with female leadership, with 35% of all deals in 2023 made into companies with female representation on the company executive team.

Funds investing in NI companies during the year included SV Health Investors, Macen Capital Partners and Guinness Ventures.

Among the companies highlighted in the report is Cumulus Neuroscience, which raised over £11m to help it develop faster, more effective tools to help partners solve the biggest healthcare challenges in neuro-degeneration and psychiatry, through their next generation integrated physiological and digital bio-marker platform.

The growth in investment in Northern Ireland companies was achieved despite a challenging economic backdrop, which saw over a decade of historically low interest rates came to a sudden end and costs, budgets and valuations recalculated across households, businesses and investments.

A Cumulus Neuroscience headset being trialled as part of Fastball-EEG project (Cumulus Neuroscience/PA)
A Cumulus Neuroscience headset being trialled as part of Fastball-EEG project (Cumulus Neuroscience/PA) The Catalyst report highlighted Cumulus Neuroscience, which raised over £11m to help it develop faster, more effective tools to help partners solve the biggest healthcare challenges in neuro-degeneration and psychiatry

Kieran Dalton, head of scaling at Catalyst said: “While the increase in venture capital investment into Northern Ireland companies was relatively modest in 2023, it is still very encouraging set against the continuing drop in activity in the wider UK venture capital investment market.

“Equity funding locally has been very resilient, with many of the larger deals consisting of follow-on investments from existing investors who have been willing to back their existing positions.

“At all levels, from Seed to Series B, many of the larger investments were delivered by a community of investors spanning individuals, corporates, management and institutions.”

Steve Orr, chief executive at Catalyst, added: “Less than a decade ago Northern Ireland registered only £5m of venture capital investment into local companies in a year - and last year there were seven deals where companies raised more than that amount on their own.

“This is a testament to the quality of our start-up founders, but also demonstrates the increased understanding amongst investors of what Northern Ireland’s ecosystem has to offer.

“Northern Ireland has consistently proved that it can produce innovative companies with high growth potential worthy of capital investment and I expect this interest will continue to grow in future.”