Raising Finance

A look at the most active UK equity investors in the seed, venture and growth space during 2014

5 min read

18 May 2015

Former editor

For businesses considering raising an equity funding round in the near future, Real Business pulls together the investment firms which are most active across the three stages of growth.

Equity investment in Britain breached the £2bn and 1000 deals mark during 2014, topping out at £2.34bn from 1006 transactions completed by 952 different businesses. With those figures up from £1.07bn and 372 deals in 2011, it’s clear that many more businesses are seeing equity finance as a way to grow.

Indeed, in April we pulled together the ten biggest venture capital investments in British history after peer-to-peer alternative finance platform Funding Circle closed a £100m Series E transaction.

However, finding which firms are most active is often a difficult task. Pitching your company to those on the end of an investment cycle is not where you want to be spending you time. We’ve used statistics from deep data company Beauhurst to find out where you should direct your attention.

Seed-stage deals:

Annual transaction numbers in this space were up 22 per cent in 2014, to 423, and by 47 per cent in terms of value, to £216m (for the 321 deals that were disclosed). With an average ticket size of £672,000, this was growth for the second consecutive year after dipping between 2011 and 2012.

Crowdfunding has been identified as the most active in this investments space, contributing 126 deals.

Biggest five investors:

(1) Crowdcube
Investor type: Crowdfunding
Number of deals: 72

(2) Seedrs
Investor type: Crowdfunding
Number of deals: 34

(3) Jenson Seed EIS Fund
Investor type: Private equity
Number of deals: 22

(4) Seedcamp
Investor type: Incubator
Number of deals: 13

(5) Finance for Business North East Angel Fund
Investor type: Local and regional government
Number of deals: 9

Breakdown of investor types:
Crowdfunding: 126
Private equity: 105
Private investor: 90
Local and regional government: 39
Angel network: 38

Have a look at some seed-type deals:

Venture-stage deals:

Venture-stage businesses in Britain closed 301 equity transactions during 2014, up by 25 per cent when laid over the previous year – a new record for this size of deal. On the value front, the 241 disclosed investments contributed £658m – a huge increase over the 2013 figure of £376m.

Private equity led the way with 129 deals, despite strong showing from crowdfunding platforms such as Crowdcube – showing that later-stage deals can be closed online.

Biggest five investors:

(1) Crowdcube
Investor type: Crowdfunding
Number of deals: 19

(2) Index Ventures
Investor type: Private equity
Number of deals: 10

(3=) Finance Wales
Investor type: Devolved government
Number of deals: 9

(3=) Scottish Co-Investment Fund
Investor type: Devolved government
Number of deals: 9

(5=) Angel CoFund
Investor type: Central government
Number of deals: 98

(5=) SyndicateRoom
Investor type: Crowdfunding
Number of deals: 8

Breakdown of investor types:
Private equity: 129
Private investor local and regional: 68
Government: 43
Crowdfunding: 37
Angel network: 35

Have a look at some businesses raising venture capital:

Growth-stage deals:

At the top end of the scale, growth in volume and value was once again achieved. In contrast to the venture space, which has experienced fluctuations, 11 per cent growth in volume and 15 per cent in value was discovered. A total of 282 deals brought in a disclosed value of £1.46bn.

Average investment is at its highest since 2012, at £6.9m, with private equity funds participating in over 80 per cent of deals in this space.

Biggest five investors:

(1) Business Growth Fund
Investor type: Private equity
Number of deals: 34

(2) Finance for Business North East Growth Fund
Investor type: Local and regional government
Number of deals: 11

(3) Octopus Ventures
Investor type: Private equity
Number of deals: 9

(4) Finance Wales
Investor type: Devolved government
Number of deals: 8

(5=) Finance Yorkshire’s Equity Linked Investments
Investor type: Local and regional government
Number of deals: 7

(5=) Index Ventures
Investor type: Private equity
Number of deals: 7

(5=) Notion Capital
Investor type: Private equity
Number of deals: 7

Breakdown of investor types:
Private equity: 175
Private investor: 35
Local and regional government: 34
Devolved government: 20
Corporate: 16

Meet the companies closing big growth rounds: