Friday, 6 February 2009

Surprising rise in UK VC tech funding

(By Anthony Miller). Figures just in from UK tech VC specialists, Ascendant, rather surprised us. While voices around the VC sector seemed to echo the gloom and doom elsewhere in the financial services industry, the value of VC investment in the UK & Ireland tech sector just beat £1bn in 2008, a record since 2001 and 15% up on the prior year. And before you say ‘it must have all happened in first half’, the numbers show different. Total transaction value rose every quarter since Q2 as in prior years.

Ascendant said that the hot sub sectors were Internet/Wireless Services (up 66%) and Software (up 41%). In fact, Internet/Wireless Services was the single biggest sector, with 67 companies taking £279m. SpinVox, MoneyExpert, Miniweb, Badoo, Seatwave, Enqii and Playfish all raised more £10m. Over 70 software businesses shared £223m, exceeding VC software investment in 2006 and 2007. The key deals were Realtime Worlds (£25m), Patersons HR (£20m), Complinet (£19m) and Tideway Systems (£14m).

I spoke to Ascendant MD, Stuart McKnight and he said deal sizes were on the increase. Although smaller funds were coming to end of life and were pulling back from new investments, the ‘alpha’ players, like Accel and Balderton, were doing some great cherry-picking now that valuations are low. However, there is still little VC interest in IT services start-ups, which seem to be left pretty much to fund themselves.

Nonetheless, this is hugely encouraging news for start-ups and for the UK tech sector. Without a continuous stream of innovators coming in to the market, the future of our industry would look even bleaker than the present!

No comments: