The much vaunted Emerald Fund may have failed to deliver any actual investment here, but as The Guardian’s Henry McDonald reports, Belfast-based venture capital fund managers, Crescent Capital, are planning “another tranche of investment, worth £30m”, “by the end of this year”. And they have form in this area. From the Guardian report
One of Northern Ireland’s leading economists said that while venture capital support for indigenous companies should be “top of the wish list”, the handful of companies receiving such support in Northern Ireland compared poorly with up to 70 similar enterprises in the Irish Republic. Mike Smyth, a senior economics lecturer at the University of Ulster, called the number of venture capitalists backing local business “pathetic” compared with the Republic or Britain.
“Venture capitalists like Crescent [are essential in] helping startups and fledgling companies,” Smyth said. “But while there is so much free money from government departments like Invest Northern Ireland, demand for VC support is going to be slow. That is the main reason why there are few venture capitalist enterprises in Northern Ireland.”
Although it’s worth noting that the Crescent Capital news section includes an Irish News report on Fund III, “which Crescent fund managers claim will raise up to £60 million”, which reveals
Crescent says the pre-marketing phase to the third as yet un-named fund has already started, and its team is preparing to speak to institutional investors in America and Scandinavia, as well as Britain and Ireland, ahead of its proposed launch in early 2011.
Central to its plans will be securing a Europe-wide tender which Invest NI is launching in the spring.
Whilst of the last investment fund, Crescent Capital II in 2004, worth £22.5 million.
Investors in Crescent Capital two included Invest NI (£7.5 million), the Northern Ireland Local Government Officers Superannuation Committee (£6 million) and the New York State Common Retirement Fund, the second biggest pension fund in the US.
A spokesman for Invest NI told the Irish News: “Subject to board approval, we intend to go out to tender in the next couple of months to select fund managers for two new funds a co-investment scheme and a development fund.
“The co-investment scheme would co-invest alongside Business Angels and seek to encourage the development of the Halo network.
“The proposed development fund will work alongside private investors to meet the gap in access to capital in the local venture capital market for investments between £450,000 and £1.5 million.”