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Firms see surge in private capital investment

Launch: Ian Stevenson, Andrew Noble and Michael Moore

Businesses in Scotland benefited from £895m invested by private capital firms in 2021, substantially higher than in pre-pandemic 2019, according to a new report.

The latest figure compares favourably to £213m invested in 2020 and £271m a year earlier.

The authors say the sharp rise is evidence of a strong bounce-back and of the vast range of tech opportunities Scotland.

Of all UK businesses backed by private equity and venture capital in 2021, 7% (88 of 1319) were based north of the border.

Additionally, tech was the most attractive area for investment in 2021, with 65% (57 of 88) of businesses operating in this sector.

Produced by the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA), the ‘Nations & Regions’ report looks at investment activity across Scotland – identifying the country as a growing hotspot for private capital activity.

It uses data and case studies gathered from across the BVCA’s membership to provide an in-depth look at how it supports businesses with capital, management expertise and long-term partnerships.

It also includes analysis on Scotland’s blossoming tech ecosystem, what more can be done to support the country meet its full potential for investment, and features commentary from the Scottish National Investment Bank.

Michael Moore, BVCA director general, said: “Private capital firms are alive to the many remarkable opportunities Scotland has to offer – be it the emerging tech start-ups in cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow, the world-leading research-led businesses growing out of the country’s universities or the already-established companies with scope to flourish at a global scale.

“Private equity and venture capital can, and are, helping these businesses to thrive. Together we’re creating jobs, encouraging individuals and communities to succeed, and supporting policy aims set by both the Scottish and UK governments on sustainable economic growth.”

Edinburgh Napier University spin-out Cyacomb, which uses technology to sift through harmful online content, was backed by Par Equity’s investment.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Ian Stevenson, CEO of Cyacomb, said: “Par Equity’s support for Cyacomb has been instrumental in helping us grow. They’ve challenged us to think big with our strategy and build our team, provided the funding needed to further develop our technologies, and helped us navigate the challenges faced by start-ups that begin life as university research projects.

“As a result, we’re now enabling law enforcement agencies right across the globe to quickly stamp out harmful online content and safeguard children – something we’re incredibly proud of.”

Andrew Noble, partner at Par Equity, said: “Cyacomb is making an enormous impact in the online safety sector; providing a very real solution to a growing, global problem.

“Not only is Cyacomb a fantastic example of how technology can be used for social good in the world, but it’s also representative of the high-quality tech start-ups found in Edinburgh and across Scotland more broadly.

“As Scotland’s tech ecosystem matures, we’re seeing more and more companies of this stature and quality breakthrough on an international scale.”  

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