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Midlands company targets start-ups

Scottish tech growth attracts investment firm

Paul DevlinScotland’s growing start-up technology base has attracted Mercia Technologies, a Midlands-based investment group geared to building, funding and commercialising technology businesses across the UK.

The firm has opened an Edinburgh office and secured partnerships with Abertay University and the University of Strathclyde, to reinforce its support for early stage Scottish businesses. The office will be headed by Paul Devlin (pictured), who joins Mercia as investment manager, Scotland.

Located in central Edinburgh, the office will allow Mercia to bolster its commitment to finding and investing in disruptive, scalable technology businesses in Scotland. It says this market is largely underserved by later stage investors, despite its impressive variety of start-ups and spinouts.

Mr Devlin, who ran the LAUNCH.ed student company formation service at the University of Edinburgh until joining Mercia, will build a team in Scotland to increase Mercia’s deal flow and provide the company with new and exciting investment opportunities.

He has a strong track record as an entrepreneur and supporter of early stage businesses and has a wealth of expertise in market and technology assessment, academic and industrial collaborations, company formation and IP commercialisation.

Mercia’s believes its partnerships with Abertay University, which has notable strengths in the digital sector, and the University of Strathclyde, which excels in life sciences, manufacturing and electronics, will provide it with a pipeline of new investment opportunities.

Mercia now has 11 partnerships with universities across the Midlands, the North and Scotland, with a dedicated technology transfer team to support spinout companies through to commercialisation. Spinouts from these partners now provide approximately 50% of all investments via Mercia’s third party funds, managed by its wholly-owned subsidiary, Mercia Fund Management (MFM).

As a result, MFM recently raised its University Growth Fund, a tax-efficient SEIS and EIS fund, which will be used to support university spinouts from Mercia’s partners across the UK.

Mark Payton, chief executive of Mercia Technologies, said: “When we listed on AIM last year to scale our established model of informed and patient capital provision, Mercia made a clear statement of intent – that it was a national business with a strong focus on the Midlands, the North and Scotland, all of which are a hotbed of technology-led innovators struggling to find supportive investment.

Abertay university“In 2014, £2.7 billion was invested across the South East of England in venture capital against less than £300m across all of Scotland. We look forward to working with Scottish entrepreneurs to address this imbalance, with our focused investment activity and expertise, managed by industry-leading investment directors who have built highly successful businesses in each of the sectors we support.”

Mr Devlin said: “This a fantastic opportunity to help scale up Scotland’s existing start-ups and support the next breakthrough ideas.”

Commenting on the new partnership, Stuart Mackenzie, commercialisation infrastructure manager at the University of Strathclyde, said: “We have been impressed by Mercia’s success in raising new funds in a difficult market, and by Mercia’s commitment to expanding its geographic footprint.

“Since adopting a commercial investment policy in 2012, the University has invested over £1m in spinout company funding rounds led by established early-stage investors. We welcome the addition of Mercia to this list and look forward to participating in Mercia-led funding rounds.”

Mark Batho, vice-principal and deputy vice chancellor (University Services) at Abertay University, said Mercia’s track record and expertise in providing specialist input to university start-ups, particularly in the digital sector, “will be valuable in encouraging and supporting the creativity and dynamism for which our students are known.”

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