The Investment Activator Programme supports investment activity across the region, we have pulled together some useful statistics and information to help you understand all the great things that are happening here. Scroll down to explore the companies making waves in the region and the sectors that are leading the way.
Top 5 Sectors for investment in the South West
Businesses & Professional Services
Data kindly provided by our data partner Beauhurst
Whilst there have obviously been equity investments into a large variety of industries within the region over the past 12 months, there are several key sectors that stand out as strengths within the South West, whether due to the size and success of companies that have already settled here or due to the amount of support available in the region attracting more activity in these areas. Standout sectors include:
The term DeepTech covers any technology not focussed on end-user services, including AI, Quantum Technologies, Robotics and Biotech. Over the past few years, we’ve seen strengths within the South West across all these areas.
AI: Very notably, Graphcore has raised £162m in equity investment in January 2021 for their AI infrastructure tools, to top up the £116m they received in 2020.
Quantum: The University of Bristol is a centre of excellence in Quantum Technologies. Since 2016, 31 new companies have been created and over £60 million has been dedicated to developing the industry in the region.
Biotech: In 2018 University of Bristol spinout Ziylo was acquired for around £630m, and it’s founder Harry Destecroix has since set up the Science Creates VC fund.
Robotics: The Bristol Robotics Lab at UWE has seen several extremely successful spinouts including Open Bionics which has raised £4.8m to date.
There are several incubators and accelerators in the region with a focus on DeepTech, including Unit DX & DY, Future Space, SETsquared Bristol, the Bristol Robotics Lab, and the National Composites Centre so plenty of support for those startups to grow.
Cyber Security is a sector that has flourished across the UK in 2020 due to the increased amount of remote working and changes in working practises. However, even prior to 2020 Cyber was a focus of the region.
Cheltenham is the home of GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre, attracting specialist talent to the region. A Cyber Security Operations Centre was set up in 2016 in Corsham to protect the Ministry of Defence’s cyberspace, and various startups and communities have sprung up over the past few years including Immersive Labs which attracted £38m of equity investment in its 2nd year of trading in 2019, and Bristol & Bath Cyber which has been set up to bring together people of various backgrounds into Cyber.
Fintech has long been established as a strength for the South West as the location of the tech centres for large corporates such as Lloyds and Hargreaves Lansdown, plus several crowdfunding platforms are based within the region, including the equity crowdfunding platform Crowdcube.
Home to the investment success story Brightpearl which has raised £62m to date, recently the South West has seen a plethora of fintech startups emerge. Companies to watch in 2021 include Loqbox, Tumelo, Lumio, itSettled and Roqqet, who are at the early stages of their investment journeys.
As home to Aardman Animations, the BBC Natural History Unit and Channel 4, the region has attracted some serious players, however, there is also much support available for early-stage creative companies in the West of England.
The Bristol VR Lab, the Pervasive Media Studio, and the Centre for the Analysis of Motion, Entertainment Research and Applications all attract an international influx of early-stage companies.
Of the creative startups emerging from the region, Condense Reality, Motion Impossible and Stornaway are 2020 standouts.
Most active investors by number of deals in the SW:
Over £1.5 Billion Raised in the West of England since 2016
2016 saw 114 companies raising equity funding in the West of England. Many companies who have since become significant scale ups raising their first significant seed in this year including: Polecat (£3m), Zeetta Networks (£1.25m), Cloudfind (£800K), Neighbourly (£740K), Pureplanet (£500K) Wriggle (£450K) and Cognisess (£433K).
139 companies raised equity funding in 2017 with several deeptech and hardware businesses raising significant amounts. BluWireless raised £17.9m for their 5G mmWave wireless technology, Graphcore raised $80m towards the development of their Machine Learning processors and Xmos raised $15.4m for their development of audio and voice processors.
2018 saw over 141 companies raise money in the West of England. This included a significant number raising between £2-5m including MoveGB, MoneyHub, TravelLocal, Micrima and Boxarr. Notably biotech start up Ziylo was also acquired by Danis Pharmaceutical Company Novo Nordisk in a deal of $800m.
2019 was a big year for the West of England investment scene with two of its better known businesses (Grapchore & Ovo Energy) becoming the first ‘Unicorns’ in the area. Additionally Ultra Haptics acquired with West Coast startup Leap Motion to form Ultraleap and over 100 other businesses raised investment.
Despite the impact of COVID-19 last year was a strong year for investment with significant amounts raised by Graphcore ($222M) & Brightpearl (£33m) amongst others. New funds landed in the form of the £15m Science Creates EIS Fund focussed on deeptech startups and £10m coinvestment fund from Newable to sit alongside Bristol Private Equity Club’s angel investments.
- 2016: £200 Million
- 2017: £277 Million
- 2018: £312 Million
- 2019: £373 Million
- 2020: £364 Million
There are a number of other brilliant businesses that have raised over the past year or so, we’ve highlighted some of them here.
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