The UK's tech sector continues to grow, fuelled by billions of pounds of venture capital (VC) money.
The latest figures from London & Partners show that 2019 is set to be a record year for VC investment in UK technology startups, with London tech firms alone attracting £2.6 billion in funding in the first half of 2019. This follows the trend of 2018, when the European tech investment table published by Pitchbook again had the UK as the leading recipient of VC funding for tech companies.
This investment has led to a vibrant venture capital ecosystem here in the UK. A range of firms around the country now offer various levels of investments at different stages in a company's growth, with most focusing on specific industry verticals.
Here we list some of the top firms in the country and why you might want to pitch them.
Launched in late 2019 by Check Warner and long-time colleague Matt Penneycard, Ada Ventures is a £27 million fund to invest in founders from diverse backgrounds.
Warner has spent the last four years advocating for greater diversity and inclusion in the venture capital industry through her company Diversity VC and is now aiming to invest in previously under-served startup founders.
Ada – named after Ada Lovelace, of course – will focus its first fund on initial seed investments of around £500,000 in about 30 companies. A statement from Warner says that it will look towards investing in "founders who come from diverse backgrounds and who are solving some of the world's most significant problems, problems that have been overlooked by the current crop of founders and VCs".
Its core sectors are healthcare, consumer and the future of work, with a strong technology underpinning.
Its portfolio at launch includes the maker of flushable sanitary pads Polipop, jewellery startup Motley and the ecommerce fulfilment specialist Huboo.
Founded in 2015 by Frederic Court and Antoine Nussenbaum, London-based Felix Capital focuses on how digital is changing consumer experiences, with a mission statement which reads: “We operate at the intersection of technology and creativity. We focus on digital lifestyle, investing in brands and related enabling technologies.”
The firm typically invests at the early stage with between $500,000 to $10 million. In early 2020 the firm announced a new $300 million fund. At the time, Frederic Court, founder and managing partner at the firm said: “We have built a portfolio in line with our thematic investment strategy, with a focus on emerging and culturally relevant consumer brands, as well as related B2B technologies that support them.”
The current portfolio includes big names like Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand Goop, food delivery company Deliveroo and exits from exercise bike brand Peloton and luxury fashion retailer Farfetch, following their IPOs.
Founded in 2006 by Max Bautin, Kerry Baldwin and Ed Stacey, IQ Capital invests up to £10 million at the seed and Series A stages in disruptive UK deep tech companies with global ambitions, as well as follow-on funding for its best performing portfolio companies. Key technology areas include machine learning, AI and data science.
Recent exits for the Cambridge-based firm include Bloomsbury AI, which was acquired by Facebook, and martech company Grapeshot, which was acquired by Oracle in 2018. The current portfolio includes the banking-as-a-service provider ThoughtMachine, Privitar, Divido and Senseye.
Blossom Capital was founded in London in 2019 by ex-Index Ventures and LocalGlobe VC Ophelia Brown, alongside Imran Ghory, Mike Hudack and Louise Samet.
The firm's first $85 million fund was established to invest in a small portfolio of tech startups at the Series A stage at a deal size of around $5-10 million. Then, in January 2020, Blossom raised a second fund of $185 million, bringing total funds raised to $270 million in less than 12 months.
"We look for very mission-driven founders looking to solve very large problems and huge markets," Brown told Techworld. "Very product-driven founders, where the conception of the product comes from them. And then we think a lot about how fast that company can scale into a global leader. We're not looking for copycats. We're not looking for regional outcomes, but really transformative companies."
Oxford and London-based Oxford Capital has a venture capital arm which focuses on investing in early-stage UK technology companies from seed to Series A. The fund is broken up into six teams: ecommerce and marketplaces, AI and machine learning, digital health, mobility, retail, and fintech.
Its portfolio includes online GP service Push Doctor, fintech companies like Moneybox and Curve, and market research innovator Attest.
Camden-based LocalGlobe is a prolific seed investor in technology firms, with a portfolio which includes UK tech scene darlings like Citymapper, Improbable, Transferwise and Zoopla.
Founded by father and son Robin and Saul Klein in 2002, the firm has recently raised a $180 million fund, called Latitude, to further support its portfolio companies through Series B and later funding stages.
Founded in 2000 by Benchmark Capital in Silicon Valley, Balderton became fully independent in 2007 as a UK firm, investing in early-stage and internet startup companies primarily in Europe.
Balderton invests between £775,000 to £15 million per investment and manages approximately £1.8 billion, with most of the capital coming from university endowments, charitable foundations and pension funds.
In November 2019 Balderton announced a $400 million VII fund aimed at European Series A investments.
“We believe Europe has the potential to build the next generation of technology giants, and we are focused on helping brilliant founders fulfil that ambition. We are seeing more and more exceptional founders raising Series A in Europe. With today’s new fund we want to build on that momentum," Bernard Liautaud, managing partner at Balderton said as part of the announcement.
Notable past investments include Kobalt, Bebo, Citymapper, Wonga and Magic Pony.
Palo Alto big hitter Accel – formerly Accel Partners – has had a UK presence for nearly 20 years and has invested in the likes of GoCardless, Monzo, Soldo, Tessian, Privitar and WorldRemit.
The firm tends to focus on early-stage investments (typically Series A), across Europe and Israel.
It most recently raised a £440 million fund in May 2019 and has $3 billion in funds under management in Europe.
Headed up by the investor and entrepreneur Dominic Perks and fifth-generation financier Richard Hambro, London-based Hambro Perks focuses on global investments in fast growing technology companies.
It has a portfolio of more than 40 companies, including Muzmatch, Pi-Top, Seenit and Perks' own Laundrapp.
Based in Edinburgh, Par Equity is one of the leading Scottish venture capital firms. It specialises in healthcare technology, fintech, IT and consumer companies and tends to invest in early-stage companies.
Its majority-Scottish company portfolio includes the direct lending platform BondMason and semiconductor maker Dukosi.
Founded by former Stanford classmates Maren Bannon and Jennifer Keiser Neundorfer in 2018, Jane VC focuses on investing in female-founded software businesses.
Bannon is based in London and focuses on UK companies, while Neundorfer is based in Boston in the US.
Uniquely focused on space startups, Seraphim Capital is based in London and invests in companies that are working in the space ecosystem, such as radar specialist Leo Labs and nanosatellite operator Spire.
Index Ventures is one of the better known London-based venture capital firms, investing in technology companies and entrepreneurs building tech startups.
Founded in 1996 by Neil Rimer, it focuses on ecommerce, fintech, mobility, gaming and artificial intelligence companies in every stage from seed to Series C.
Some of its highest profile investments have been in companies like SoundCloud, Dropbox and Just Eat.
Episode1 is a venture capital fund based in London. It invests in early-stage tech startups in the UK, with a particular focus on software companies.
Founded in 2013 the company has invested around £25.5 million into over 20 companies so far.
Although it prioritises early seed investments, Episode1 also invests up to Series A.
Started in 2008 by MessageLabs cofounders and brothers Ben and Jos White, Notion Capital is a London-based venture capital firm that invests in early-stage B2B and software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses.
It invests in businesses across Europe in enterprise tech at the seed and Series A stages.
Notion Capital also offers a seed investment programme that invests in early-stage startups and is also an investor in Seedcamp, the early-stage mentoring and investment scheme for EU-based startups.
With a large portfolio, investments include high-profile companies such as Shutl.
Octopus Ventures has nearly £5 billion under management and tends to invest in smaller, high growth companies across Europe and the US.
Founded in 1999, the investment size is between £25,000 and £25 million. Previous investments include companies Magic Pony, GymBox, Hubbub and Zoopla Property Group.
Passion Capital is a London based VC firm set up in 2011 which has backed a number of early-stage tech startups and founders.
Founding partners include the UK Treasury's Special Envoy for fintech, Eileen Burbidge, and Robert Dighero. Prominent investments include DueDil, Monzo, Show My Homework and Adzuna.
Albion Ventures was set up in 1996. It oversees nine Venture Capital Trusts with about £450 million in total under management. Albion also manages the UCL Technology Fund and provides management services to Albion Community Power PLC and Albion Care Communities, with a focus on technology, health and energy investments.
It has a technology-focused arm, called AlbionVC, which has invested in more than 45 firms including Bloomsbury AI (recently acquired by Facebook) and hot martech company Phrasee.
Mercia Fund Managers
Mercia Asset Management, formerly known as Mercia Fund Managers, is a UK-based asset manager which invests in UK small businesses.
Founded in Birmingham in 2010 by Mark Payton and Tim Hazell, the company provides investment in UK startups through its Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS).
Mercia Fund Managers has invested in more than 100 startups across sectors including life sciences, software, electronics and 'digital'.
Initial Capital is a private venture capital firm based in London and Silicon Valley, offering early-stage and seed funding to technology startups.
Founded in 2010, the company has made several investments across tech, with a strong track record in gaming. Its current portfolio includes Hostmaker and Divido.
Founded in 2015, Fuel Ventures is a venture capital firm that focuses its investments on marketplaces, platforms and SaaS (security-as-a-service) startups in the UK.
The London-based firm has a portfolio of 18 investments so far and prioritises early seed to series A investment.
Fuel Ventures, which was founded by Mark Pearson, also provides mentorship and startup experience due to the CEO being an entrepreneur himself.
Dawn Capital is an early-stage VC firm that provides incubation, development capital, seed, startups and Series A investments in the fintech and B2B software sector.
Founded in 2006, it invests in companies based in Europe, with funding rounds ranging between $0.25 million and $10 million.
The VC firm, which was launched in 2012, began providing investments as a private firm known as AngelLab.
Beacon Capital's main focus is towards B2B, E-commerce and SaaS-based business models. It invests post seed and pre-series A which is typically an investment round of £500,000 to £2 million.
With a large portfolio, investments include Azimo, Adbrain and more.
Pentech Ventures was founded in 2001, and invests in software technology companies in B2B and B2C.
Its areas of focus include big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain and more. With over 23 investments and 15 exits, investments include Criticalblue, Flightman and others.
Scottish Equity Partners
Launched in 1991, SEP has made over 150 investments with more than 110 exits. With offices in London, Glasgow and Edinburgh, the firm invests in a mix of energy, healthcare, and technology companies. SEP currently has six funds under the management of 40 employees.
The firm invests up to £20 million in high growth technology companies and currently holds 35 high growth portfolio companies. Investments include Cyberhawk, SolarCentury and Skyscanner.
DN Capital invests primarily during the seed and growth stage from £214,000 to £13 million per company. The London, Menlo Park and Berlin offices invest in marketplaces, e-commerce, software, mobile apps and digital media sectors.
Notable investments include Shazam, Hppn and Seedcamp.
Amadeus Capital Partners Limited
The team has been focusing on technology companies across physical, social and commercial industries since 1997. Over 90 young companies have been funded and supported over this time.
Investments include GreenRoad, Improbable, Think Tank, Travelstart, Cambridge Broadband Networks and Inotec.
Connect Ventures invests in early-stage internet and mobile startups along with digital media businesses. Founded in 2012, the investment size ranges from £300,000 to £600,000.
The London-based has a portfolio which includes investments in Citymapper, Curve and Secret Sales.
Hoxton Ventures is a £31 million firm investing in early-stage technology with a particular interest in internet, mobile and software startups. They invest from £193,000 in seed money to £1.5 million in a lead round.
It has backed more than 43 founders since launch in 2013, with notable investments in Deliveroo, Mainframe, Babylon Health and Australian tour website Tourradar.
Founded in 2006 by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström, the global firm has made over 50 investment across four continents. Headquarters are in London with offices in Beijing, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, and Istanbul.
Atomico has a total of 80 investments in 54 companies including Skype, Rovio, Farmdrop, Quipper and US based Jawbone.
Eden invests in high growth European technology companies with a focus on big data analytics, cloud computing, digital media, enterprise software, fintech, internet, mobile, retail technologies, social media and telecommunications software sectors.
Investments range from £200,000 to £3 million. Since 2002 the firm has invested in companies including Brightpearl, Hootsuite, Voss and publishing tool Zemanta.
JamJar was founded in 2009 with a broad investment area of consumer brands. The firm invests between £150,000 to £1 million per round to companies located in Europe.
Headquartered in London, the firm was created by the founders of Innocent and has 20 investments in 18 companies. Notable investments include Deliveroo, Dojo, Bol and Popchips.
With transaction values of over £860 million in exits since 2010, the firm works in IT, digital media and resource efficiency sectors. Frog has partnered with more than 60 companies.
Requiring up to £17 million of growth capital, the VC firm has backed companies including Azimo, Mediatonic, EDITED and Rated People.
Eight Roads Ventures
Eight Roads Ventures, headquartered in London, is the investment arm of US multinational Fidelity. The VC firm’s latest fund totals £150 million. Portfolio companies include MADE.COM, notonthehighstreet, Packlink, AppsFlyer and Take Eat Easy.
One recent exit was Wahanda (now re-branded as Treatwell). It was the first institutional investor in Alibaba, and is still an investor today.
A focus in network economics drives European based investments between £171,000 to £13 million. The London-based firm strives to support entrepreneurs and build large network effects within their business field.
Piton was founded in 2012 and invests in online businesses that hold the potential for network effects. Investments include Mano Mano, Quandoo, Treatwell and Take Eat Easy.
With £685 million under management this firm has a geographic focus in the UK, Germany, Scandinavia and across Europe. Wellington invests between £172,000 to £4.3 million into digital media, software enterprises, FoodTech, AgTech and artificial intelligence sectors.
Wellington was founded in 1991 and closed its first account in 1998. Dropbox and Spotify are among their notable investments.
Advent Life Sciences
Advent is a London-based healthcare fund that invests in life sciences businesses. The firm was founded in 2010 and invests in companies across the US, Europe and UK with headquarters in London.
Within life sciences they have a particular focus in new drug discovery, enabling technologies and med tech. Investments include cardiac mapping system Acutus Medical and MediGene anticancer drugs.