For many years now, London has been leading the way in European venture funding, and is even giving Silicon Valley a run for its money. Venture capital funds have pumped an incredible amount into the City’s high growth ecosystem, from those that are betting on the riskiest tech startups, to those supporting later stage, private equity-backed businesses. In this list, we’ve profiled the 23 most active VC firms in London in 2020 so far, taking a look at their investment criteria as well as recent deal activity.
To get a complete picture of the active funds in the UK, where they’re investing, and who they’ve investing in, you’ll need access to the Beauhurst platform. Whether you work in corporate finance or a commercialisation team looking to secure funding for your clients, or are an investor seeking new funds to co-invest with, our data can indicate the most appropriate funds for you to approach. Find out more here.
The most active VC funds in London 2020
- IQ Capital Fund
- Access EIS
- Barclay Ventures
- Index Ventures
- MMC Ventures
- Octopus Ventures
- Eight Roads Ventures
- Notion Capital
- Insight Partners
- Partech Ventures
- Maven Capital Partners
- Forward Partners: Pre-Seed and Seed
- Force Over Mass Capital
- Fuel Ventures
- Startup Funding Club SEIS Fund
- Backed VC
- Ascension Ventures
- Fair by Design
Although we track fundraisings that haven’t been announced to the media, this article is based on announced investments only. As such, the actual number of deals completed by these funds may be higher than stated. Where we’ve quoted the size of an investment, this refers to the total amount of the fundraising round, and not the individual contribution of each fund.
IQ Capital Fund
IQ Capital Fund partners with exceptional thought leaders pushing the frontiers of deeptech and science. The fund aims to help early stage companies develop their product, scale and reach business success. Along with equity finance, IQ Capital offers access to business connections, expert advice, a hub of other successful tech entrepreneurs and help from institutions including the British Business Bank.
Our research indicates that the IQ Capital Fund is currently investing up to a maximum of £30m thorugh it’s IQ Capital Fund III, launched in 2019. The investment team is actively seeking new opportunities in AI, Data Science, and IoT companies with disruptive ideas. The fund has some big names in its portfolio. In March 2020, it contributed towards a £2.15m round for seed stage AI startup Synthesized. Its most recent London investment was in Privitar in April, as part of a £71m fundraising round.
First launched in 2019, Access EIS is a relatively new fund under the management of former crowdfunding site, SyndicateRoom. Head of Marketing at SyndicateRoom, Marcin Zaba, recently told us about the data-driven approach this fund is implementing:
“Using Beauhurst data, we’ve created an index of the best performing ‘super-angels’ and their investments, and are looking to co-invest with them across all their investments. By investing across the entire top-end of the market, we want to become an early backer of every single future British unicorn.”
The fund has got off to a flying start, with 14 fundraisings for disruptive, London-based companies so far. The companies backed by the fund span a wide range of sectors, from restaurants and cafes (Hop Vietnamese) to legal services (Hatch) and cleantech (Zeigo).
Barclays UK Ventures (BUKV) is on a mission to accelerate the future of banking. The fund was created with the purpose of finding and supporting emerging tech companies that could improve Barclays Bank customer experience. The fund focus is on two central themes: connecting communities and building new business lines across both the financial and non-financial landscape. The fund does not publish its investment range, but our research indicates that it typically invests between £5m and £20m.
Created in April 2018, the fund has already invested in a broad range of UK startups. This includes Kano Computing, which develops and sells kits to teach children how to make computers and learn to code. Since the start of 2020, Barclay Ventures has invested in fintech London startups Flux and Stenn, and computer software startup, Cutover. The fund is actively looking for early-stage companies with disruptive ideas to invest in and co-develop customer propositions.
Founded in 1996, Index Ventures has worked with numerous London unicorns, including Deliveroo, Farfetch, Funding Circle, Transferwise and Revolut. The fund prides itself on working with seed to venture stage startups across every sector. However, it’s portfolio shows a particular interest in fintech, eHealth, entertainment, digital infrastructure and fashion. Index Ventures chooses to back founders with curiosity, thoughtfulness, and deep conviction.
Six months into 2020, the fund has backed six London companies through six funding rounds: Electric Playbox, tiney, Argent, Cutover, Codat and Peanut. Most of these were follow-on investments, but the £7.85m round for Codat, which develops an API that allows developers to integrate financial systems into their business’s product, was a new portfolio company.
MMC Ventures has been investing since 2000 and has over $500m under management. The fund predominantly invests in UK companies with occasional investments in the USA. MMC helps to scale tech startups, typically investing between £2m and £3m in small to medium sized companies. The fund invests up to £3m in the first round of funding, and up to £5m – £7m over the lifetime of a business. In 2019, MMC launched a new £52m seed fund to support early-stage London businesses as part of the Greater London Investment Fund.
MMC has a good track record and was even an early investor in Gousto back in 2013, with the company now considered the market leader in recipe box delivery. The fund provided follow-on funding in Gousto’s £30m round in April. MMC has participated in a further four London-based rounds this year, with follow-on funding for Apexx and SLAMcore. First time investments were made into big-data startup, Ably, and blockchain-based business, Copper. The fund is incredibly active in London, having taken part in 64 fundraisings since 2011.
Octopus Ventures is the European venture capital arm of Octopus Group. Since launching in 2008, the fund has primarily invested in companies in the areas of health, money and deeptech. Currently, it is based in London and New York with partners placed in San Francisco, Singapore and China. As one of Europe’s largest venture funds with approximately £1.3b under management, the overarching aim of the fund is to improve customer experiences.
The fund invests in companies at all stages of evolution. Investment typically starts from £1m for seed rounds, £10m for venture rounds, and up to £25m for follow-on rounds. Big names in the portfolio include Secret Escapes, Elvie, and Big Health. Octopus Ventures has conducted around 111 fundraisings into London companies since 2011. Six of these investments were made this year, with recipients including SLAMcore, Skew, Digital Therapeutics, Bought by Many and allplants.
The fund also participated in a £100m round for used car marketplace, Cazoo, a company that Octopus has been backing since December 2018, when it was just two months old. The company is now one of the fastest companies to reach unicorn status.
You’re probably already familiar with Accel, a US VC veteran with a huge global presence. Currently, it manages its Europe operations, worth around £3b, from London. Having successfully backed the likes of Spotify, Funding Circle and Deliveroo from an early-stage, the fund is interested in a broad range of sectors. Accel currently has its sights set on enterprises operating within fintech, healthtech automation, and digital security.
In May 2019, Accel raised its sixth round of funding of £440m to invest in early-stage startups in Europe and Israel. The fund has been putting the money to good use and made significant investments in London-based companies Humio, Privitar, Moshi and Monzo.
Online events provider Hopin has already received two investments this year from Accel, one in February and the other more recently in June. It will come as no surprise that Hopin has performed exceptionally well under the lockdown measures, and has presumably seen a very increase in demand and user activity.
Eight Roads Ventures
One of the oldest VCs on our list, Eight Road Ventures was founded back in 1969 and has partnered with technology and healthcare founders across the globe. The fund typically participates in venture and growth stage investments into talented teams, founders with high conviction and companies that are looking to expand globally. As well as growth capital, Eight Road Ventures provides market links and develops long-term partnerships with its portfolio companies.
Eight Road Ventures has invested in four London based companies in 2020. Half of these were follow-on investments, one into dietician app Oviva in January and the other into AI company Decibel Insight in May 2020. Fresh financial backing was given to financial data platform SteelEye and Cazoo. Our data shows that the fund has backed 20 fundraisings into London-based companies since 2011, most notably backing Deliveroo, Treatwell and notonthehighstreet.
Notion Capital is an early stage investor in European enterprise tech, SaaS and Cloud-based software. The fund was founded in 2009 by co-founders of MessageLabs, Ben and Jos White, who are well-versed in growing successful SaaS businesses. The fund looks for fast-growing companies that are headquartered in Europe with at least $1m+ annual recurring revenue.
Notion Capital typically invests between $3m and $5m. Its portfolio, made up of 55 London-based companies, also includes several European unicorns, including Tradeshift, Unbabel, Mews Systems and others. Already this year, Notion Capital has invested in 5 London-based startups, mostly in the later stages of growth: Currencycloud, Hazy, Homelyfe, Topia and Scoota. The latest fund (its fourth) of $150m was raised in October 2019, and is being used to continue its B2B work with early stage SaaS and enterprise tech companies, whilst widening it’s net into cybersecurity, automation and marketplaces.
Insight Partners invests in high-growth technology and software scaleup companies that are driving transformative change in their industries. Founded in 1995, it has invested in more than 400 companies worldwide and has raised more than $30b in capital commitments. Insight’s mission is to invest in visionary companies and provide them with expertise to help accelerate revenue and profit in predominantly software and e-commerce companies. The majority of the fund’s investments have been into US companies, but it has a growing portfolio of European and particularly UK investments, mainly in London.
Big name London companies currently on its books include Mimecast, ContractPodA, Duco, Tractable and YOOBIC. So far in 2020, Insight Partners has invested in Tractable, OneTrust, and Receipt Bank. Its most recent deal was a follow-on investment into Checkout.com in June 2020, as part of a £121m funding round. The startup, which processes payments for behemoths like Adidas, Virgin Active, and EasyGroup, was crowned as a unicorn last year.
Partech Ventures is a global investment platform for tech and digital companies, led by ex-entrepreneurs and spread across offices in San Francisco, Paris, Berlin and Dakar. Founded in 1982, the fund has over €1.5b under active management and has invested in 180 companies in 30 countries. Partech has a dedicated team and actively fosters business relationships with entrepreneurs and strategic partners across the globe.
Typically, Partech invests from €200k to €50m in a broad range of businesses, from software, digital brands and services to hardware and deeptech, across all major industries. The fund has completed 15 fundraisings into London based companies, four of which were completed this year. In January 2020, Partech invested in communications and dietician app Oviva as part of a £16.1m equity fundraising campaign. In April it contributed to a £71m round into data software startup Privita, followed by an £8.2m round for AI chatbot developer Blink, in May. These companies join high-profile names like Kantox, SecretSales, Drover, and Peanut as part of Partech’s London Portfolio.
Seedcamp is an early-stage venture fund which backs talented founders tackling large, global markets. The fund typically invests between £100k and £2m, and supports its portfolio companies to find product market fit, build their sales and marketing function and make introductions to a global network of experts.
Since the beginning of 2011, Seedcamp has backed 85 London-based companies through 108 separate funding rounds, most commonly investing in software-as-a-service, fintech and artificial intelligence startups. Since the beginning of 2020, the fund has backed nine London companies through ten fundraisings.
Most of these fundraisings were follow-on rounds into existing portfolio companies, such as virtual events platform Hopin, insurtech startup Digital Risks, and THIS, which produces meat replacement products. Seedcamp did also add a few more companies to its portfolio, including Tickito, which develops AI chatbot software that recommends events to users based on their location, and Peppy, a platform that connects employers to a range of subsidised personal services, such as physiotherapy and mental health support.
Maven Capital Partners
Based in Glasgow, Maven Capital Partners provides equity and loan finance to growth-focussed companies in the UK. The organisation manages a number of Beauhurst tracked funds, from Finance Durham and Greater Manchester Loan Fund, to Maven UK Regional Buyout Fund and Maven VCT (Venture Capital Trusts). This range of funds allows Maven to support companies of all shapes and sizes across the UK, so far deploying over £500m since 2009.
This individual fund has backed 15 London-based companies since 2011, with five of these funding rounds taking place in 2020. Just one of these investments was a follow-on round — a £3.5m round for Bright Network on the 1st of July. This comes as a surprise, given that most funds have doubled down on existing investments since the outbreak of COVID-19, and in the face of increased economic uncertainty.
Investments made this year include a £2.5m injection into Precursive, which develops resource management software for projects and forecasting, and participation in a £6.4m round for Coniq, which develops software that enables retailers to create and track offers and promotions.
Forward Partners: Pre-Seed and Seed
Forward Partners: Pre-Seed and Seed fund is a specialist early-stage VC firm with a focus on applied AI, marketplaces and e-commerce startups. The fund invests between £200k and £3m, from pre-seed through to series A funding rounds. Whilst the fund has no geographical restrictions on investment, Beauhurst research indicates that the fund primarily invests in UK companies with occasional investments in the USA.
The fund has participated in 50 UK funding rounds since 2011, backing 37 businesses—35 of which are based in London. This includes online plant retailer, Patch, and parent-nanny matching platform, Koru Kids. Since the start of 2020, Forward Partners has backed four fundraisings, including follow-on funding into payments-as-a-service platform, Apex, and data infrastructure provider, Ably. The fund also participated in a £1.2m funding round into cybersecurity startup OutThink in February, as well as a £500k first-time raise for career development service provider, Would You Rather Be.
AlbionVC is the technology investment arm of Albion Capital, a leading fund manager that’s been investing for over 20 years and has around £1b under management. This specific fund invests in companies from Seed to Series B, investing between £250k and £10m per round, and focussing on B2B software.
Since its first investment in 2017, AlbionVC has backed an impressive 25 funding rounds into London-based startups. Four of these fundraisings were completed in 2020. This includes a contribution to a round totalling £15.4m for insurtech company, Concirrus. Concirrus is a growth stage business which develops analytical software that uses real-time behavioural data to provide risk assessments for both the automotive and marine insurance markets. The purpose of the investment is to internationalise, broaden the product offering and diversify across multiple business lines. Co-investors in the round included IQ Capital Fund, Eos Venture Partners, along with undisclosed angel investors.
Force Over Mass Capital
Based in Victoria, Force Over Mass Capital (FOM) invests in European technology companies that are either EIS- or SEIS-qualifying (or both). Since 2015, FOM has participated in 120 London-based funding rounds. Six of these fundraisings have taken place since the start of 2020—four pre and two post lockdown measures.
The firm started the year with participation in a £2m round for Cybertonica on the 8th of January. Cybertonica develops software that uses machine learning to reduce fraudulent activity in e-commerce, in order to increase the chances of customers following through on purchasing items they have added to their online baskets. This round featured coinvestment from Truesight Ventures US-based Springboard.
FOM’s most recent London-based round took place earlier this month, announced on 17th June. The fund participated in a £5.57m round into Admix, a five year old startup that develops a plugin to display advertising on virtual and augmented reality content. This was a follow-on investment for FOM, which first invested in the company backed in February 2018.
Beringea has been in the business for over 25 years and currently manages £350million in funds globally. It operates three VCTs in the UK, including ProVen VCT and ProVen Growth and Income VCT. Beringea invests in medium to large sized companies, typically in the Venture or Growth stage, with a good revenue run rate, and potential for massive growth. This includes having a strong management team and the possibility for geographical expansion or product development. In return the fund provides tailored support, and will usually seek to take a seat on the Board of Directors.
Amongst Beringea’s portfolio of London companies is MyOptique Group, Fnatic, Thread, D3O and EDITED. Sectors range from healthcare to e-commerce, and the most common buzzword across it’s portfolio is Artificial Intelligence. Already this year, Beringea has invested in four London-based startups: Second Nature and DeepCrawl, EDITED and Luxury Promise. These investments take its total fundraisings in London to 43.
Fuel Ventures is a Seed VC that invests into EIS qualifying companies with tickets of £500,000-£2,000,000. They invest in platforms, marketplaces and SaaS model companies both B2B and B2C across a range of different verticals. On top of these criteria, the investment team looks for companies with a proven business model, the ability to scale quickly, and international growth potential. Fuel Ventures invests between £250k and £2m in each funding round, and aims to be a ‘startup studio’, offering incubation and hands-on support alongside financial investment.
The fund has completed 34 fundraisings into London-based companies since 2011, with four completed since the start of 2020. The most recent of these was a £2.1m funding round for augmented reality design agency, Poplar, on the 28th May. Fuel Ventures led the round, which included participation from Ascension Ventures, Ascension Ventures Syndicate Club, Haatch Ventures and Super Ventures. This funding will help Poplar deliver premium AR and 3D experiences to accommodate the increasing demand for branded campaigns. According to EU Startups, ‘AR engagement has spiked by 19% as consumers turn to social, web and mobile for alternative ways to engage with retailers and brands’ during the pandemic lockdown.
Startup Funding Club SEIS Fund
Managed by Kin Capital, Startup Funding Club SEIS Fund is based out of Camden and invests in SEIS-qualifying businesses. As well as providing finance, the fund offers on-going mentoring and business coaching for its portfolio companies. Although its sector agnostic, Beauhurst research indicates that the VC fund primarily invests in technology and consumer goods businesses.
Startup Funding Club has backed 71 funding rounds in London since 2011, including six this year, all of which were first-time raises for the recipients. One of these investments was into one year old startup Faraday, which develops a subscription service for businesses that allows them to quickly collect customer feedback for new products. The round totaled £200k and involved participation from sister funds SFC Angel Fund and SFC Regional Fund, as well as other undisclosed investors.
The fund also participated in a £188k round for healthtech company CircaGene, which provides DNA testing designed to diagnose genetic conditions. This round was another collaboration with SFC Angel Fund and SFC Regional Fund.
Backed VC is a Hackney venture capital fund that invests in companies that are developing technologies to give people greater freedom and support communities. The fund has a young, small team of investors and analysts, as well as an extended community of scouts who help find and support world-changing founders. The scouts are helping to radically diversify the landscape of venture and investing by ‘doing VC’ without waiting for permission.
The fund works closely with companies and offers hands-on support as well as investments, backing companies with strong founding teams and disruptive ideas. According to Beauhurst data, Backed VC made its first investment in 2015 and has since participated in 18 London-based rounds, supporting 12 companies. Four of these funding rounds have taken place this year, including a £64.9m follow-on round for Thought Machine, which develops security software utilising machine-learning for the financial services sector.
Localglobe is a VC firm focussed on backing London-based founders. Run by rather and son duo Robin and Saul Klein, the fund most commonly backs early-stage tech startups. The investment team prefers to meet founders through warm introductions and keeps its investment criteria under wraps.
With its first investment made in 2016, Localglobe is an incredibly active investor in the London venture scene. To date, the fund has backed almost 90 fundraisings across 60 companies. Seven of these fundarisings took place in 2020, the first of which was a £3.6m round for cyclist insurance provider, Laka. The round valued the company at £6.54m (pre-money), and included participation from Yes VC, Creandum, as well as various angel investors. The fund’s latest deal was a £2.74m round for AI startup 7Bridges, with participation from Crane Ventures as well as other undisclosed investors.
Recently named as one of the most active impact investors in the UK, Ascension invests in digital media and technology companies, particularly those that are using technology to make a positive social impact.The fund describes itself as an early-stage VC built by exited entrepreneurs to back the next generation of impact founders. As well as providing growth capital, Ascension also offers mentoring services and access to its network of industry contacts.
Ascension has not been shy in the face of COVID-19. It has backed 16 deals into 16 separate companies so far this year, ten of which were completed after lockdown measures came into place. This includes a £200k fundraisings for Suvera in early April. Healthtech startup Suvera develops an app where patients can provide follow-up data to their GP after an appointment, such as daily blood pressure readings and symptoms, as well as being able to track when to take their medications.
Fair by Design
Managed by Ascension Ventures, Fair by Design seeks to support companies developing products and services that are beneficial to low-income families. Portfolio companies include financial services business Credit Kudos and IT tutoring service We Are Digital. The fund will invest in both for-profit and nonprofit companies, including CICs, charities and private limited companies.
The fund made its first investment in 2017, and has since participated in a further 12 funding rounds into London-based companies. Four of these rounds took place in 2020, all of which went to fintech firms. The fund contributed to a £2.9m round for SteadyPay, a £4.5m round for Youtility, a £5m round for Credit Kudos and a £175k round for Wagestream. Co-investors include Hambro Perks, Barclays, Albion VC, and various angel investors.
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