Impact fund deploys £1m of new investment

Impact investor BBRC (Bristol & Bath Regional Capital) has deployed £1m of new investment focused on seeding Bristol’s early-stage businesses.

The £1m venture fund is part of the wider £10m City Funds investment fund, launched in 2019 as one of the first of its kind in the UK, bringing together investment, grant and local authority support in a unique collaboration between BBRC, Quartet Community Foundation and Bristol City Council.

City Funds provides investment to support and strengthen local organisations solving some of the biggest problems facing Bristol, such as housing scarcity, energy efficiency and community wellbeing. Of the total £10m investment pot, £1m of it is allocated for earlier-stage impact ventures that can often find it challenging to secure investment because they are seen as too high risk. The rest of the fund is for more established businesses looking for growth lending.

BBRC’s team work closely with local partners and networks to identify best-in-class businesses and projects that will deliver both on the ground impact for local communities and attractive investor returns.

City Funds’ venture portfolio has successfully deployed investment into a range of local purpose-driven ventures including:

Albion Technologies: With £400k from City Funds, Albion has established a manufacturing facility in Bristol that will create 90 green jobs over five years, and created battery energy storage systems that improve the efficiency and stability of energy generation from renewable power facilities like solar and wind farms using non-toxic recyclable materials.

Yuup: Digital experience marketplace Yuup secured a £200k investment to grow its presence in Bristol. It has successfully grown its service to 60k experiences sold annually, with an annual sales figure of £120k, 400 hosts (26%) coming from Bristol’s under-represented communities.

AutonoMe: With an early investment the AutonoMe app helps over 400 vulnerable people including care leavers, people with disabilities and those experiencing homelessness through personalised videos and prompts to improve independent skills for daily life. A further investment of £150k in 2022 allowed AutonoMe to grow their market workplace support.

Service Robotics: Boosted by a £250k investment from City Funds, HealthTech firm Service Robotics is using its local knowledge and specialised remote technology to tackle the care crisis and loneliness through coordinating health services for older people in the South West.

Yumello: With £250k from City Funds, migrant-led Moroccan food business Yumello has expanded its Bristol HQ and grown national sales, creating new jobs and providing foodbanks with nut butter. It is also supporting Moroccan people by sourcing its argan oil from local co-op Targanine.

Jari Moate, investment director, BBRC, says: “City Funds is one of the first of its kind in the UK that brings together investment, grant funding and local authority support in a coordinated, place-based approach to tackle key local issues and inequalities.

“The venture ecosystem in Bristol is building the future of the city now, and we want impact to be a central part of that. That’s why we have chosen to deploy £1m into early-stage ventures who are developing and leading solutions to solve some of the biggest social and environmental problems faced in Bristol. We will continue to work with them to keep Bristol-based impact front and centre as they grow.”

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