Chester VC firm secures £15m of new funds to invest in early stage businesses

Judith Hartley

Chester-based venture capital investment manager Deepbridge Capital has secured a £15m commitment from British Business Investments, a commercial subsidiary of the British Business Bank, to fund early stage businesses across the UK.

The news follows some £11.1m invested into 14 North West businesses in the past 12 months via the Deepbridge EIS funds, which include Deepbridge Technology Growth EIS and the Deepbridge Life Sciences EIS.

The region secured 38% of the total £29.4m deployed across the UK.

This £15m commitment from British Business Investments’ Regional Angels Programme, which is designed to reduce regional imbalances in access to early stage equity finance for smaller businesses across the UK, will be invested alongside Deepbridge’s own funding over the next three years.

The commitment will match funds raised via Deepbridge’s private investors, including the Deepbridge Technology Growth EIS and the Deepbridge Life Sciences EIS.

Deepbridge’s EIS funds enable private investors to access a portfolio of early stage companies within the region’s vibrant technology and life sciences sectors and support a portfolio of knowledge-intensive businesses in the North West and wider UK. Deepbridge recently announced that it has seen a record year of EIS fundraising, with £29.4m deployed across 37 growth companies.

By using its specialist knowledge, expertise and understanding of where, how and why investee companies operate, Deepbridge is able to better support, mentor and manage those businesses from seed stage, through commercialisation and growth funding.

Some of the 14 North West-based innovative technology and life sciences companies that have benefited from Deepbridge’s EIS funding during 2020/21 include virtual reality software developer vTime, hydropgel innovators Manchester Biotech, ophthalmic drug delivery company NanOptima and cancer diagnostic specialists Zilico.

Judith Hartley, British Business Investments chief executive, said: “Our Regional Angels Programme is designed to address imbalances in access to early stage finance in the UK and to increase the overall amount of capital available to smaller businesses through early stage investors such as Deepbridge.

“With this £15m commitment from British Business Investments, Deepbridge will be able to increase its support for early stage businesses across the North West, so they can flourish and grow.”

Ian Warwick, managing partner at Deepbridge Capital, said: “Being at the forefront of enabling investors to access great tech and life sciences opportunities across all regions of the UK, which is at the heart of the Regional Angels Programme’s mandate, we are delighted to be working with British Business Investments and thank them for their support.

“Being Chester-based and being surrounded by the amazing innovations in the region, the North West of England naturally sees a concentration of our investment. Innovative technology and life sciences companies will be fundamental to the UK’s economic recovery and BBI’s commitment to supporting our drive to identify, support and grow such companies is great news for our investee companies, investors and the wider UK economy.”

He added: “2020/21 represented a record year of fundraising for Deepbridge, which we believe not only shows considerable appetite for early stage private equity amongst investors, but is also a continuing endorsement of our hands-on management style to supporting EIS-qualifying companies.”