Raising Finance

Business Growth Fund recruits heavyweights to lead new technology venture capital fund

3 min read

01 June 2015

The £2.5bn bank-backed Business Growth Fund (BGF) has unveiled the three-man team who will be leading its new £200m fund aimed at venture-stage investments into UK technology companies.

Former MMC Ventures investor Rory Stirling is being joined by ex-LOVEFiLM CEO Simon Calver and Firefly Tonics co-founder Harry Briggs to complement the deals BGF is closing in the larger SME space.

In May, Real Business interviewed BGF CEO Stephen Welton on the back of the now four year-old firm passing the £500 investment mark. Speaking then, Welton emphasised that the firm is not like conventional private equity. It does things in a “different way”, by only ever taking a minority shareholding and taking a longer-term view to company growth and ultimate realisation.

This minority shareholding approach has now been taken a step further by its entrance into the venture capital space – an area increasing in prominence due to the proliferation of fast-growth technology companies in the UK.

“Opening for business” in autumn 2015, the £200m fund will “focus on investing in Britain’s best entrepreneurial talent”.

Welton said of the development: “Harry, Simon and Rory bring a strong mix of venture and entrepreneurial experience, with ambitions to unearth some of the most exciting UK technology companies of tomorrow. With BGF’s extensive support network and £200m behind them, they have the financial firepower to quickly establish themselves as a major new ventures business.

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Through his role as partner at MMC Ventures, Stirling has led investments into businesses including NewVoiceMedia, Pact Coffee and Somo. Prior to that he was with investment bank Greenhill & Co.

Calver was part of the team that grew LOVEFiLM from a startup to a position where it was sold to Amazon in February 2011. After that, he took up a role as chief executive of Mothercare, turning it around and expanding through franchise partners.

The last member of the new team, Briggs, sold his health drink company Firefly Tonics to private equity firm Langholm Capital and joins from Balderton Capital where he set up investments into GoCardless and Lyst.

“BGF has become a game-changer in the UK in providing equity and long-term capital for growing companies. We want to use our nationwide platform to extend our support to earlier stage businesses, especially in the technology sector, with a dedicated team, while our core business continues to focus on providing growth capital for small and mid-sized companies which has shown tremendous growth over the last two years,” Welton added.

BGF has now backed nearly 100 entrepreneurial businesses during its investment period, and has eight regional offices throughout the UK.