Overview

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.

For a downloadable version you can check out our 2021 Annual Report on SW Equity Investment, and our Mid-Year Update for 2022.

£1.14BN
£1.14BN
Total amount raised in region in 2021
£214M
£214M
The biggest single amount raised
205+
205+
Companies supported by the IAP
330+
330+
Number of companies raised in 2021

Top 5 Sectors for investment in the South West

Technology/IP-Based Businesses
53%
Businesses & Professional Services
37%
Industrials
29%
Leisure and Entertainment
9%
Personal Services
7%

Data kindly provided by our data partner Beauhurst

Standout
Sectors

The South West region has been on a broadly upward trajectory for the last 10 years and 2021 stood head and shoulders above the rest, nearly trebling the amount raised in 2020 and culminating in almost £500m raised in the final quarter of the year.

In total 2021 saw 334 companies raise £1.14bn in 379 fundraising events according to our data partners Beauhurst. Whilst these investments cover a huge number of sectors, 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. 

Aerospace : Long a haven for aerospace technology, with Airbus and indeed 14 of the 15 world-leading aerospace companies based here, Vertical Aerospace have raised £214m in 2021 to further develop their electric aviation for urban air travel, proving that this sector is as active as ever.

Robotics : Bristol Robotics lab has fostered some fabulous robotics startups over the last few years, including the incredibly impressive Open Bionics. Reach Industries and Perceptual Robotics are also ones to watch.

Biotech: In 2018 University of Bristol spinout Ziylo was acquired for around £630m, and its founder Harry Destecroix has since set up the Science Creates VC fund as well as 2 Bristol based deeptech incubators.

There are several incubators and accelerators in the region with a focus on DeepTech, including the Science Creates ones, 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 has attracted £92m of equity investment, and Bristol & Bath Cyber which has been set up to bring together people of various backgrounds into Cyber.

Companies to watch include KETS Quantum Security, and of course potential future unicorn Immersive Labs.

The region is home to tech centres for large corporates such as Lloyds, Nationwide and Hargreaves Lansdown and several crowdfunding platforms including the equity platform Crowdcube.

 

Local scale-up Brightpearl was recently acquired by Sage in a £225m deal and recently the South West has seen a plethora of fintech startups emerge. Companies to watch in this sector in 2022 include Moneyhub, Seccl, Loqbox, Tumelo and Roqqet.

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 Pervasive Media Studio, The Studio in Bath and the Centre for the Analysis of Motion, Entertainment Research and Applications all attract an international influx of early-stage companies.

Of the creative companies emerging from the region, Ultraleap, Virti, Condense Reality and Motion Impossible are standouts of recent years.

Most active investors by number of deals in 2021 in the SW:

18
18
Crowdcube
9
9
Seedrs
8
8
Bristol Private Equity Club
5
5
Access EIS

Over £2.4 Billion Raised in the West of England since 2017

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.

A testament to the strength of the region, 2021 saw a huge rebound from the disruption of COVID-19, with record investment of £1.14 billion going to well over 300 companies. Key investments included Vertical Aerospace (£214 million), Netomnia (£162 million), Ultraleap (£60 million) and Huboo (£60 million).

  • 2017: £277 Million
  • 2018: £312 Million
  • 2019: £373 Million
  • 2020: £364 Million
  • 2021: £1.14 Billion
In 2021
82
82
Companies raised less than £100k
125
125
Companies raised £100k - £499k
40
40
Companies raised £500k - £999k
84
84
Companies raised £1M or more in 2021
Investment Activator Programme
Headline Investments

We’ve looked back over the last 5 years of investments in the region and we’ve pulled out the companies that have raised the most money during this time.

Ones To Watch
Other companies that have raised recently

There are a number of other brilliant businesses that have raised over the past year or so, we’ve highlighted some of them here.

Advetec was founded in 2000 and has since raised investment of over £11M, including over £4M in 2021.
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Clue was founded in 1987 and in 2021 raised investment of over £5M from Frog Capital.
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Cushon was founded in 2014 and has since raised investment of £17.9M, including £6M in 2021 from Augmentum Fintech and Seedrs.
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CytoSeek was founded in 2017 and has since raised Investment of £5.29M from Investors which include Science Creates Ventures & Parkwalk Advisors.
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DeGould was founded in 2011 and has since raised investment of over £10.5M, including £6M in 2021.
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Flexi-Hex was founded in 2017 and has since raised investment of over £2M, including £1.25M in 2021.
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Kelpi is a sustainable bio-tech company founded in 2020, and in 2021 raised over £360k.
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KETS Quantum Security was founded in 2015 and has since raised investment of £4.32M from investors including Quantonation & Kx.
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Kortext was founded in 2013 and has since raised over £35M, including £15M in 2021 from DMG Ventures.
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Micrima was founded in 2006 and has since raised Investment of £14.8M, including £3.8M in 2021.
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Moneyhub was founded in 2011 and has since raised investment of over £20M, including £13M in 2021.
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Neighbourly was founded in 2012 and has since raised Investment of £5.6m. Investors include: Guiness Asset Management.
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Perceptual Robotics was founded in 2016 and has since raised over £2.5M, including £1.6M in 2021 from investors TSP Ventures, Humble Holdings, Metavallon VC, and Business Angel(s).
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SageTech Medical Equipment was founded in 2015 and has since raised Investment of over £7M, including over £3.5M in 2021.
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Tickitto was founded in 2017 and in 2021 raised investment of £3.25M. Investors include: Seedcamp, TriplePointCapital and Business Angel(s).
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Virti was founded in 2013 and has since received Investment of £8.84m. Investors include: IQ Capital, Cedars Sinai Medical Centre.
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What people say about the South West

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