23 Most Active Venture Capital Firms in London 2021

| Lucy Wilson

For many years now, London has been leading the way in European venture capital funding and entrepreneurship, even giving Silicon Valley a run for its money. Venture capital firms (VCs) have pumped an incredible amount into the city’s startup ecosystem, from high-risk, pre-seed companies to more established ventures. In this list, we’ve profiled the 23 most active venture capital funds in London over the past decade, taking a look at their investment criteria and some of the fast-growing businesses that they’ve backed.

What are venture capital funds?

Venture capitalists are the most common equity investors into high-growth UK companies, ahead of both crowdfunding platforms and angel investors. VCs specialise in buying shares in and growing the valuations of private companies. But how does venture capital investment differ from other forms of startup funding? Unlike other institutional investors, many venture capitalists have been on the other side of the table, as founders of their own startups, and so can offer their expertise, and longer-term support, alongside growth finance.

Venture capitalists also typically invest in riskier portfolios, although each fund will have their own set of criteria, outlining the types of investment opportunities that they’ll consider. These decisions are made by fund managers (General Partners or GPs), whilst financial backing usually comes from large corporate investors or high-net-worth-individuals (Limited Partners or LPs).

Venture capital in London’s startup ecosystem

Private equity and venture capital firms are very active investors into London startups and scaleups. Since 2011, 48% of the announced equity deals secured by high-growth UK companies from PE/VC firms have gone to those based in London. Our data indicates that 502 funds have backed 2,807 announced equity investments in the region, providing growth capital to 1,830 ambitious companies. And these funding rounds amount to 40% of all announced equity investments into high-growth London businesses.

Unsurprisingly, venture capital investment in London predominantly goes to early-stage startups. Of the PE/VC funding rounds secured by high-growth companies in the Capital, 75% have gone to either seed or venture-stage businesses. In comparison, 21% of PE/VC investment has been raised by companies in their growth stage, and just 4% by those at the established stage.

Despite a slight drop off in 2018, VC activity in London has grown significantly over the past decade, from just 83 deals in 2011 to 406 deals in 2020. Even in the midst of COVID-19 and national lockdown restrictions, venture capital investment remained steady between 2019 and 2020, with 402 and 406 deals, respectively. Meanwhile, an impressive 139 PE/VC funding rounds took place in the first quarter of 2021 which bodes well for the year ahead.

Most active venture capital funds in London
2011 – Q1 2021

Fund Name Number of deals 2011 – Q1 2021 Average round size participated in
Seedcamp
128
£3.83m
Octopus Ventures
124
£8.79m
Index Ventures
111
£14.3m
Ascension Ventures
95
£577k
Passion Capital
93
£6.76m
LocalGlobe
92
£5.38m
Balderton Capital
81
£15.2m
SFC Capital
80
£289k
MMC Ventures
72
£5.18m
Accel
69
£27.0m
BGF Growth Capital
59
£7.14m
Playfair Capital
52
£3.37m
Forward Partners: Pre-Seed and Seed
51
£2.61m
Notion Capital
50
£9.48m
Beringea
46
£5.33m
Connect Ventures
45
£5.44m
Fuel Ventures
43
£4.12m
Downing Ventures
42
£4.33m
AlbionVC
42
£9.24m
Draper Esprit
41
£17.7m
Anthemis
41
£7.76m
Access EIS
41
£1.00m
Force Over Mass Capital
40
£2.24m

Although the Beauhurst platform does track unannounced fundraisings, we’re only able to assign investors to a round if their participation has been announced. As such, the actual number of deals completed by these funds may be higher than stated.

This article looks at the most active venture capital funds in London, regardless of sector. If you want to narrow down these VCs even further, or by activity in other regions, then you can do so on the Beauhurst platform. Whether you work in corporate finance and are looking to secure venture funding for your clients, or you’re an angel or fund seeking venture capitalists to co-invest with, our data can indicate the best VC firms for you to approach. Find out more here.

Seedcamp

Launched in 2007, Seedcamp invests in founders using technology to tackle large, global markets. The fund is focused on early-stage companies, and typically invests between £100k and £2m. Whilst it’s sector agnostic, Seedcamp most commonly backs software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies. The fund supports its portfolio companies to find product-market fit, builds out their sales and marketing functions, and makes introductions to a global network of experts. 

The fund has an excellent track record, having backed several unicorn companies, including Revolut, Wise (formerly TransferWise), and virtual events platform Hopin. Its portfolio also includes notable fintech firms Primer, Curve, and challenger bank Monese. Since 2011, Seedcamp has invested into 97 ambitious businesses in London, through at least 128 separate equity funding rounds. 

Octopus Ventures

Octopus Ventures is the European venture capital arm of Octopus Group. Since launching in 2008, the fund has primarily invested in businesses operating in the healthcare, fintech, deeptech, and consumer sectors. It looks to back companies (at any stage of evolution) led by talented entrepreneurs that are seeking to make a significant, positive impact on the world. Investments typically start at £1m for seed rounds, and £10m for venture rounds, and the fund seeks to continue supporting its portfolio companies through to IPO. 

The fund also provides companies with a network of coaches and operating consultants, alongside its Venture Partners. Since 2011, Octopus Ventures has backed 71 London-based companies, through at least 124 equity deals. Big names in its portfolio include Secret Escapes, online marketplaces Depop and Cazoo, vegan meal subscription company allplants, and food waste reduction app OLIO. 

Index Ventures

Index Ventures has worked with numerous London unicorns, including Deliveroo, FarFetch, Funding Circle, Transferwise and Revolut. And an impressive number of its investee companies have carried out successful IPOs. The fund works with founders in any sector, at any stage, but its portfolio shows a particular interest in seed and venture-stage startups in fintech, SaaS, eHealth, entertainment, fashion, and digital infrastructure.

Since 2011, the fund has backed 64 companies in London, amounting to at least 111 individual equity fundraisings. Index Ventures markets itself as a people-focused, global fund that partners with entrepreneurs to turn ideas into international businesses. It currently has offices in London, Geneva, and San Francisco. 

Ascension Ventures

Ascension Ventures is an early-stage VC fund, built by exited entrepreneurs to back the next generation of technology and impact founders. It invests in companies that are eligible for the Government’s Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) or Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). Whilst Ascension doesn’t publish its investment range, Beauhurst research indicates that it typically invests between £300k and £1.2m. 

Last year, we reported that Ascension Ventures was one of the most active impact investors in the UK. And since 2011, it’s backed 78 ambitious startups in London, through at least 95 equity fundraisings. As well as providing growth capital, the fund also offers mentoring services and access to its network of industry contacts. 

Passion Capital

Passion Capital is an early-stage VC which looks to invest in digital media, software and e-commerce companies. The fund originally targeted an average investment size of between £150k and £200k, but it has since made a wider range of deals.

First established in 2011, Passion Capital has since made at least 93 equity investments into London’s high-growth ecosystem, supporting 47 ambitious tech startups. The fund’s portfolio includes Monzo, GoCardless, proptech Nested, mental wellbeing startup Spill, and insurtech Marshmallow. 

LocalGlobe

Run by father and son duo Robin and Saul Klein, LocalGlobe focuses on London-based founders, typically of early-stage tech startups. The investment team prefers to meet founders through warm introductions and generally keeps its investment criteria under wraps. But its most common sectors to invest in are SaaS and artificial intelligence (AI). 

Despite only launching in 2016, LocalGlobe is an incredibly active investor in London’s startup space. Since 2011, the fund has backed 60 companies in the Capital, across at least 92 equity funding rounds. LocalGlobe’s portfolio includes edtech firm Kano, B2B challenger bank Tide, startup recruitment platform Otta, budgeting app Cleo, and Wise.

Balderton Capital

Balderton Capital is focused on backing European-founded tech companies with global ambitions. Since launching, over two decades ago, Balderton Capital has worked with more than 200 founders and raised over $3b to invest in their startups. The fund takes a long-term approach, typically investing in the early stages of a company’s growth, between $1m and $20m, and continuing to support them from start to exit. 

Since 2011, the fund has backed 39 high-growth startups based in London, through at least 81 equity funding rounds. Its portfolio is impressive, with big names including Revolut, Darktrace, ComplyAdvantage, Crowdcube, Depop, Citymapper, and GoCardless. 

SFC Capital

SFC Capital is an early-stage investment firm, providing growth capital to UK startups. SFC (previously Startup Funding Club) invests between £100k and £300k in EIS or SEIS-qualifying companies, in any sector, so long as they have a clear USP and initial traction. The firm markets itself as a ‘people business’ and looks to build long-term relationships with both entrepreneurs and investors. 

Since 2011, SFC Capital has supported 74 ambitious businesses in London, through at least 80 equity funding rounds. Its portfolio companies include insurtech Augmize, facial biometrics and cybersecurity company Onfido, ESG data analysis software Nossa Data, and biotech company CodiKoat, to name a few.

MMC Ventures

MMC Ventures focuses on post-revenue technology companies, predominantly in the UK. It helps to scale these businesses, typically investing between £2m and £3m, with an exit horizon of 3-5 years. The fund was an early investor in Gousto, and has several other notable companies in its portfolio, including flower delivery company Bloom & Wild, and market intelligence platform Signal AI. 

MMC Ventures is very active in London, having invested in 32 companies, across at least 72 equity fundraisings, since 2011. The wider firm has been investing since 2000 and has over $500m under management across its various funds. In 2019, it launched a new £52m seed fund to support small businesses in the Capital, as part of the Greater London Investment Fund (GLIF—a fund of funds backing SMEs in the Capital).

Accel

Accel is a US venture capital fund, managed by Accel Partners. Having successfully backed the likes of Slack, Bumble, and Deliveroo from an early stage, the fund is interested in a broad range of tech sectors. Accel has a huge global presence, but currently manages its European operations from London

Since 2011, Accel has made investments into 31 London-based startups, through at least 69 equity deals, including several recent follow-on rounds secured by Hopin, Monzo, and digital security company Snyk. The fund invests growth capital and works closely with businesses to develop their brands and expand their customer base.

Have you read our latest report on 2020 investment trends yet?

BGF Growth Capital

BGF Growth Capital invests in SMEs across all sectors and regions of the UK and Ireland. Its average initial investment is around £5m, with significant follow-on funding as required, in exchange for between 10% and 40% equity share of the company. The fund is managed by BGF (formerly Business Growth Fund) and has a strong success rate, with more than 100 exits by its portfolio companies, including five spinouts.  

Since 2011, BGF Growth Capital has backed 51 ambitious companies based in London, through at least 59 equity funding rounds. Alongside this growth finance, BGF offers access to a global network of experts and other investors, as well as support with strengthening boards, succession planning, and exit strategies. 

Playfair Capital

Founded in 2013 by Federico Pirzio-Biroli, an angel investor, Playfair Capital is one of London’s leading pre-seed and seed VCs. It backs innovative tech companies, predominantly in the UK, but has so far backed more than 60 founding teams in 11 countries. The fund typically invests between £100k and £500k at pre-seed, and rounds of up to £2m into seed-stage companies. 

Beyond growth capital, Playfair also offers founders advice on operating and scaling a business, and hiring talent. As an active investor in London’s tech scene, the fund has backed 33 ambitious companies in the city since 2011, through at least 52 equity funding rounds, including Sprout.ai, Ravelin, Thought Machine and Omnipresent.

Forward Partners: Pre-Seed & Seed

Forward Partners is an early-stage VC firm providing growth capital, a purpose-built startup studio, and revenue-based finance to new businesses. Its Pre-Seed and Seed fund invests in software companies, 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 rounds. 

Whilst it has no geographical restrictions, Beauhurst research indicates that it primarily invests in UK companies with occasional investments in the US. Since 2011, Forward Partners has backed 37 London-based businesses, through at least 51 equity funding rounds. These include online plant retailer Patch, payments-as-a-service platform Apexx, and data infrastructure provider Ably.

Notion Capital

Notion Capital is an early-stage investor in European enterprise tech, SaaS, and cloud-based software. The fund was first launched in 2009, and its co-founders and partners are all proven entrepreneurs and operators, who are well-versed in growing successful tech and SaaS businesses. Notion Capital ideally looks for fast-growing companies, with at least $1m+ annualised revenue (ARR). 

The fund typically invests between $3m and $5m. Its portfolio is made up of 25 London-based companies, alongside several European unicorns, such as Tradeshift, Unbabel, and Mews System. Since 2011, Notion Capital has made at least 50 equity investments into London startups. These include its numerous follow-on rounds with Currencycloud and GoCardless.

Beringea

Beringea has been in the business for over 25 years and currently manages £350m in funds, across the US and UK. It manages three ProVen venture capital trusts (VCTs) in the UK, investing in later-stage companies with strong management teams and a clear route to profitability laid out in their business plans. The firm provides development capital, supports MBOs/MBIs, and usually seeks to take a seat on a company’s Board of Directors. 

Typically investing between £1m and £10m, Beringea’s focus sectors range from life sciences and cleantech, to media and e-commerce. It backed seven London-based ventures last year, including DeepCrawl, Commonplace, Social Value Portal, and Fnatic. These take its total fundraisings in London to 32 companies, across at least 46 equity rounds.

Connect Ventures 

Connect Ventures is a pan-European VC firm which focuses on impact-led founders that are creating new, scalable software products and technologies. In the past, the fund has made investments in the range of $450k to $1.8m. It primarily focuses on London startups, but around 40% of its investments have gone to companies based across the EU. 

Since 2011, Connect Ventures has backed 27 high-growth London businesses, through at least 45 equity fundraisings. Its portfolio companies include fintech Soldo, open banking API company True Layer, lawtech Genie AI, and retail analytics startup Purple Dot.

Fuel Ventures

Fuel Ventures is a seed VC that invests exclusively in EIS-qualifying companies. It aims to be a ‘startup studio’, offering incubation support to new companies, alongside early-stage investment. The fund focuses on fast-growing tech businesses with SaaS, platforms, scalable marketplaces, and transaction technologies. On top of this, the investment team looks for companies with a proven business model and the ability to scale quickly, as well as international growth potential. It typically invests between £150k and £2m in each funding round.

The fund generally requires businesses to relocate to its London office for the duration of the programme. As such, it is very active in the Capital, completing at least 43 equity fundraisings into 31 London-based companies since 2011. Notable companies in Fuel Ventures’ portfolio include equity management platform Capdesk, Curve, and e-commerce startup Heroes.

Downing Ventures

Managed by Downing, an investment management and business finance firm, Downing Ventures is a team of venture capitalists investing in innovative technologies. The fund’s international portfolio covers a range of sectors, including deeptech, healthcare, education, e-commerce, and data analytics. It typically looks to invest between £500k and £5m per round, into EIS-qualifying companies. 

Downing Ventures has backed 33 London-based companies since 2011, across at least 42 equity rounds. These businesses include FundingXchange, Vivacity Labs, and drone company Hummingbird Technologies. The fund works alongside a number of investment partners and accelerator programmes, such as the London Co-Investment Fund.

AlbionVC

AlbionVC (the technology investment arm of Albion Capital Group) has more than 20 years of experience in venture finance, and currently manages around £600m across its funds. The firm backs UK companies from late-seed through to Series B, investing between £250k and £10m per round. It focuses on B2B software (SaaS, fintech, AI, and digital risk), deeptech (computer and physical sciences, and life sciences), and healthcare (digital health and medtech). 

Since 2011, AlbionVC has backed 31 London startups, through at least 42 equity funding rounds. Already this year, it’s invested in two ambitious ventures, LIMITLESS and Solidatus. The firm also manages the UCL Technology Fund, in collaboration with UCL Business, which provides investment for proof-of-concept, licensing projects, and spinouts.

Draper Esprit

Draper Esprit is a tech-centred VC. It invests predominantly in European companies with global ambitions. Whilst any tech-centred businesses can apply, the fund tends to focus on consumer and enterprise technologies, hardware and electronics, or digital health and wellness. It provides growth capital, in the region of £2m to £50m, depending on growth stage, and can finance MBOs/MBIs and acquisitions. 

Founded in 2006, Draper Esprit participates in around 20 deals a year, and its portfolio companies have accumulated a total value of £5b via exits. Since 2011, the fund has backed at least 41 equity rounds with high-growth London businesses, including PrimaryBid, Cazoo, Perkbox, and both of the UK’s leading crowdfunders, Seedrs and Crowdcube.

Anthemis

Anthemis is a venture investment platform, focused on tech-driven companies, specifically in the digital financial services sector. The firm has offices in London, New York, Luxembourg, and Geneva, and is willing to invest anywhere in the world. 

The fund is supported by the European investment Fund and UniCredit, and its team of fintech investors provides growth capital, alongside support and advice, to its portfolio companies. These include several London-based businesses, such as Currencycloud, Proportunity, True Layer, and Fluidly. In total, Anthemis has backed 26 ambitious London businesses since 2011, through at least 41 separate equity fundraisings. 

Access EIS

Access EIS is a relatively new fund, under the management of former-crowdfunding site SyndicateRoom which moved to a VC fund model in 2019. It is a sector-agnostic fund, focused on disruptive UK startups that are eligible for EIS. The fund has got off to a flying start, having already backed 40 ambitious London businesses since launching, through at least 41 investments (10 of which it’s made since the start of 2021). 

The unique selling point of Access EIS is that it only invests in highly-vetted deals alongside so-called ‘super angels’. SyndicateRoom puts an emphasis on co-investment, diversification, maximising access to deal flow, and getting in early to reduce risk, whilst keeping the process accessible to new investors. It typically invests between £400k and £5m.

Force Over Mass Capital

Force Over Mass Capital focuses on B2B technology companies based in Europe that are combining transformational tech with strong business models. Alongside its Growth Funds, Force Over Mass invests in EIS or SEIS-qualifying businesses, via its EIS Funds. 

Since 2011, Force Over Mass has backed 33 ambitious London companies, through at least 40 funding rounds. Its portfolio companies include geocode system developers what3words, drone startup SenSat, and augmented reality (AR) adtech Admix. 

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