Venture capital firm launches on Yorkshire campus

A UNIVERSITY-FOCUSED venture capital firm has launched its first £2m fund in partnership with the University of Sheffield.

Campus Capital is in talks with other Northern universities and plans to roll out nationwide.

It will invest in early-stage technology companies, university spin-outs, alumni businesses or local start-ups.

The firm has been launched by entrepreneurs Michael Howe, founder of Sheffield-based artificial intelligence firm Otus Labs, and Samantha Deakin Hill, who previously ran a digital agency until 2014 and now supports tech start-ups at the University of Sheffield.

Former head of Tech North Claire Braithwaite is an advisory board member, along with Rupert Wingate-Saul of AXM Venture Capital.

The Campus Capital fund is to be managed by an FCA authorised manager working with Campus Capital and investors stand to benefit from SEIS and EIS tax relief. The fund has already received initial commitments from a range of alumni and private investors.

Mr Howe said:”Many tech companies including Facebook and Snapchat were founded on campus and universities are at the forefront of research and development, so it makes sense to have funds based on campus,” he added.

“Many students are passionate about business and enterprise and in tune with new technology so are well placed to spot emerging trends and scout for potential investments. By giving them a deeper insight into the world of venture capital, we are nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs and investors.”

Sara Pates, head of enterprise at the University of Sheffield, said: “We are very excited to be partnering in such an innovative initiative, which complements existing similar provision for students to make stock market investments. It is the ‘real’ element of both of these opportunities which make them so valuable to our students. Students will develop a broad range of employability skills whilst gaining a unique insight into the world of VC investments and entrepreneurial startups.”