SE funding presents new opportunities as deal parameters widen

Selected Scottish businesses are set to benefit from £75 million in equity funding available from Scottish Enterprise (SE) over the next three years.
Eligible growth businesses are encouraged to apply for a share of the fund now that SE has enhanced and streamlined its four funds into two.
SE’s investment arm, the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB), has re-launched its co-investment funds in a bid to invest up to £75 million in Scottish companies over the next three years.
It says that, by reducing its co-investment funds from four to two and widening the investment parameters, SIB is increasing its flexibility and becoming more accessible for both businesses and investors.
It says they will now be able to identify and access appropriate investment funds more easily.
The two funds which remain – and which have been ‘enhanced’ – are the Scottish Co-Investment Fund (SCF) and the Scottish Venture Fund (SVF).
SE says these remain focused on providing opportunities for Scottish growth businesses, co-investing alongside private sector investors who bring deals to SIB.
It says both funds are widening their deal parameters, with investment starting from £10,000 up to £1.5 million through the SCF and up to £2 million through the SVF in deal sizes up to £10 million.
According to SE, the difference between the two funds is in the role of the private sector investor. Investment through the SCF is alongside Accredited Partners who are experienced investors, vetted by SIB, and subject to the terms of the SCF partner agreement. Following successful accreditation, the investment partner can lead multiple investment deals alongside SIB, with fast track access to matched funding across a wide investment range into eligible deals.
While still led by private sector investors, investment through the SVF does not require an accredited partner. SE says this approach makes it more accessible to a wider range of private sector investors, unlocking more risk capital funding for businesses.
New private equity market data collected for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills found that reported equity investments in SMEs increased from £1 billion in 2010 to £1.6 billion in 2013 due to strong seed activity. This trend is also visible in Scotland, with reported equity investment increasing from £116 million in 2012 to £244 million in 2014 (more than doubling over the two year period). This shows strong evidence of the increasing demand for equity finance and SIB’s role in facilitating access to finance for Scotland’s ambitious companies.
Kerry Sharp, head of the SIB, said: “We’ve been monitoring the market and listening to our investors, and the message was clear that companies increasingly need funding to be more flexible than ever before. That’s why we’ve widened the investment parameters and simplified the criteria to benefit both the private sector investors we work with and the companies we invest in. This greater flexibility to invest across a broader range of businesses will enable us to support more companies to reach their full potential, which in turn helps the Scottish economy to grow.”
Isle of Harris Distillers is a company which has previously secured co-investment funding. Director Ron MacEachran said: “Our project has benefited from the interest Scottish Investment Bank showed from the start of the fundraising process. Individual investors had increased confidence as a result, enabling us to leverage £5.65 million in private sector investment.
“SIB also helped us align the economic and commercial impact objectives of the project’s equity investors and grant funders.  It further helped us identify professionals with the relevant knowledge and expertise needed at critical points in the project. It’s been decades since this level of investment has come to the Isle of Harris and we are looking forward to the next chapter in this exciting opportunity.”
John Waddell, chief executive, Archangels, explained: “The relationship we have built with the Scottish Investment Bank since the co-investment model launched 12 years ago is one of trust and confidence. They have acted as the link between public and private sector funding to find solutions for Scottish SMEs in order to help them grow and move forward. This strong mutual understanding between SIB and private sector investors on what is needed to deliver a track record of success is the foundation of the co-investment model.”
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