Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson visits healthcare manufacturers Hygenica

The MP for South Staffordshire and Defence Secretary Rt Hon. Gavin Williamson visited the headquarters of Wolverhampton-based healthcare manufacturers Hygenica. Headed by Matthew Wheeler, Hygenica is a leading manufacturer of unique products deployed in NHS facilities across the UK that help prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

Mr Williamson heard how the company, founded in 2004, developed its innovative products using a unique disinfecting agent discovered in the UK, along with hearing about Hygenica’s ongoing commitment to maintaining its manufacturing base in the West Midlands as it expands into global markets over the coming years.

The Venture Capital Trust Fund, Beringea, provided Hygenica with substantial funding. This investment has allowed the company to further develop its technology, expand its manufacturing site in Wolverhampton, and will help Hygenica to take advantage of burgeoning export markets around the world.

Mr Williamson said: “It’s great to see such an innovative manufacturing firm thriving in Wolverhampton. Hygenica does really important work helping hospitals reduce infection and fight superbugs, relieving pressure from NHS staff and hospitals. Hygenica’s expansion is good news for the area - and it was great to hear their plans for continued expansion and commitment to manufacturing in the West Midlands.

It’s clear that many innovative businesses can struggle to access the finance they need to realise their ambition. I’m delighted that Hygenica - backed by Beringea’s VCT investment - has become so successful, and I look forward to hearing about their continued growth.”

Select Committee Chair praises local coffee roaster

Local MP Lilian Greenwood visited the Roast House of 200 Degrees in Nottingham on Friday 18 January. Headed by Rob Darby, 200 Degrees is a leading coffee roaster and wholesaler that also operates a number of coffee shops around the UK.

Ms Greenwood heard how the company, founded in 2012, has established itself as a leading independent coffee brand and set up a network of thriving coffee shops serving communities across the UK.

The MP was also welcomed by Matt Smith of Foresight Group, who provided 200 Degrees with substantial Venture Capital Trust (VCT) funding. This investment will support the firm’s expansion across the UK with a programme of shop openings while building the wholesale business and online retail coffee subscription model.

She tweeted about the visit, saying it was great to meet 200 Degrees the team and hear how investment from Foresight Group helped the business grow.

Former Digital Economy Minister visits NorthRow

Local MP and former Digital Economy Minister Rt Hon. Ed Vaizey visited the innovation centre of RegTech business NorthRow on Friday 23 November. Headed by Adrian Black, NorthRow helps businesses to reduce the risk of financial crime by automating identity and compliance checks.

Mr Vaizey heard how the company, founded in 2010, has doubled its turnover in the past year. He was particularly impressed to hear that this has allowed NorthRow to employ an additional 14 people, mostly in Oxfordshire.

The MP was also welcomed by Charlie Winward of NVM Private Equity, who, alongside Maven Capital Partners, provided NorthRow with substantial Venture Capital Trust (VCT) investment last year. This investment has enabled the company’s expansion, while helping to develop its products and bring them to market. NVM has also provided two board members, and general business advice.

Adrian Black, Founder and Chief Executive of NorthRow, said:

“We were delighted to welcome the Rt Hon. Ed Vaizey MP to our offices here in Milton Park. NorthRow continues to grow and expand our offerings helping clients to undertake AML, KYC and KYB checks via a single API.

Financial crime is a significant problem and we remain committed to reducing its impact. The VCT investment we obtained has helped us to grow, has provided high skilled jobs and has helped us to contribute to the local economy”


Ed Vaizey MP said:

It’s great to see such an innovative RegTech business thriving in Milton Park. NorthRow does really impressive work in helping financial services organisations to improve their efficiency and customer experience, while reducing the risk of financial crime.

“NorthRow’s expansion is good news for the area – particularly given the local hires they’ve been able to make over the past year.

“It’s clear that many innovative businesses can struggle to access the finance they need to realise their ambition. I’m delighted that NorthRow – backed by NVM’s VCT investment – has become so successful, and I look forward to hearing about their continued growth.

VCTs managed by NVM and Maven first invested in NorthRow last year. Charlie Winward from NVM also attended the visit on Friday, saying:

NVM is proud to invest in NorthRow and help the business’ continued growth.

“Investing in young, innovative businesses like NorthRow –and providing expertise and advice alongside – is the whole point of Venture Capital Trusts.

We congratulate NorthRow on their success, and look forward to supporting their growth in future.

Alex Chalk MP visits Volo Commerce in Cheltenham

Local MP Alex Chalk visited the global headquarters of retail technology firm Volo Commerce on Thursday 8 November. Headed by Ben White, Volo uses cutting edge artificial intelligence technology and market intelligence to help customers quickly and efficiently grow their online sales.

Mr Chalk heard how the company, founded over a decade ago, grew to become a leading provider of multichannel e-commerce technology, boasting large multinational clients like BMW, Superdry and Dixons Carphone. He was particularly impressed to hear about the firm’s plans for continued overseas expansion.

The MP was also welcomed by representative of NVM who, alongside Downing, provided Volo with substantial Venture Capital Trust (VCT) investment in late 2017. This investment will allow Volo to further scale-up and expand into the lucrative North American market.

Alex Chalk MP said:

It was a pleasure to visit a thriving technology firm on my doorstep here in Cheltenham, and to see a local business using world-leading technology to deliver real results for customers around the globe.”

Volo proves that high-tech firms can start-up and thrive in Cheltenham.

“It’s clear that many innovative businesses can struggle to access the finance they need to realise their ambition. I’m delighted that Volo – backed by NVM and Downing’s VCT investment – has become so successful, and I look forward to seeing them grow into a world leader.”

Mirada Medical welcomes Shadow Treasury Minister

Labour MP for Oxford East and Shadow Treasury Minister Anneliese Dodds visited cutting-edge medical imaging company Mirada Medical in her constituency.

Mirada Medical develops some of the world’s most advanced medical imaging software for use in cancer care.

Dodds heard how the company, founded in 2001, is using artificial intelligence and deep learning technology to help cancer specialists to deliver faster and more accurate cancer treatment. She was interested to hear that Mirada’s technology is developed by a dedicated, Oxford-based team of world-class engineers and scientists.

The Shadow Minister was also welcomed by David Gudgin of Albion Capital, who have provided Mirada with substantial Venture Capital Trust (VCT) investment since 2008. This investment has allowed Mirada to invest in global expansion delivering advanced medical software products to over 2000 hospitals worldwide, with a particular focus on the US.

Hugh Bettesworth, Chief Executive of Mirada Medical, said:

“I am immensely proud of the contribution that Mirada continues to make – both to customers using our technology to improve patient outcomes, and to the local Oxford economy through the high-skilled jobs that we have created.

“This would have been impossible without the funding and support that we have received from Albion Capital through the Venture Capital Trust scheme.”

Anneliese Dodds MP said:

I am impressed by the advanced imaging technology developed by Mirada, which I understand is making a real difference to clinicians fighting cancer.

Mirada is a great success story in Oxford. As an MP, though, it’s clear that many innovative businesses, like Mirada, may struggle to access the finance they need to realise their goals. The Labour Party has repeatedly called for greater investment in science, research and innovation to ensure that the UK continues to lead the way in developing new world-class technologies and treatments. 

A VCT managed by Albion Capital first invested in Mirada in 2008. David Gudgin from Albion also attended the visit on Friday, saying:

“Investing in young, innovative businesses like Mirada is the whole point of Venture Capital Trusts – providing them with the capital they are not able to get elsewhere.

Albion is proud to have invested in Mirada, supporting its global expansion and exporting activity.

We congratulate Mirada on their success, and look forward to supporting their growth in future.

Ian Mearns MP visits e2E, a "true North Eastern success story"

Labour MP for Gateshead Ian Mearns visited e2E, a VCT backed satellite communications company in his constituency.

Mearns heard how the company, founded in 1999, is working towards disrupting the way satellite communications are provided, by making them more accessible to smaller businesses. He was particularly interested to learn that e2E is building up its production and operational capabilities in the North East, with the ultimate aim of establishing the first UK Satellite and Service Operations Centre for nano-satellite communications.

 Mr Mearns was also welcomed by Andy Thomas of YFM Equity partners, who provided e2E with substantial Venture Capital Trust (VCT) investment in late 2017.  This investment allowed e2E to take a new technology – Software Defined Radio (SDR) – to market, while creating a number of new, highly skilled jobs in Gateshead.

Barry Ross, CEO of e2E, said:

The North East is an ideal location for our product and service operational aspirations, with plenty of enterprises on the doorstep that will benefit from cheaper satellite delivery from newer airborne platforms – particularly in rural regions.

The North East has excellent facilities and educational links that will help take us forward towards our vision. The investment options backed by YFM have further been well in line with our growth strategy, and brought into play much needed business support

Ian Mearns MP said:

e2E is a true North Eastern success story that Gateshead can be proud of.

Many small businesses I have met have had a clear idea of the path they wanted to travel, but have lacked the capital to get there.

“e2E, with the help of YFM, is a testament to just how successful small businesses can be when they have the required funding to support the growth they are capable of.

“I hope to be invited back!

Deidre Brock MP visits Curo Compensation in Edinburgh

Deidre Brock, SNP MP for Edinburgh North and Leith, visited technology company Curo Compensation in her constituency last Friday, along with Alan Robertson from VCTA member Maven. 

Curo’s innovative compensation management software is used to support people across 140 countries in more than 130 currencies, with customers including major blue chip corporations and multinationals. 

Investment from Maven and Downing allowed Curo to develop its technology around gender pay gap reporting and modify its product for SME customers, as well as adding extra staff and expanding into new markets. 

Johnny Mercer MP visits Chess Dyanmics in Plymouth

Johnny Mercer MP visited Chess Dynamics in his constituency, a defence and maritime technology company that has grown rapidly with support from VCTA member Beringea. 

VCTs managed by Beringea first invested in Chess Dynamics in 2008, with a further round of investment in 2014. Chess have, in the space of a decade, seen exponential growth and are now a leading presence within the sector. The team are looking to double their office presence within Plymouth, contributing to ever increasing opportunities, investment and potential within the city.

Johnny Mercer MP said “it was fantastic to visit Chess Dynamics to talk to staff and see their cutting-edge products. I am always pleased to see further defence and security-supplying companies build on their maritime needs and expand to Plymouth. These sectors are vital to the Plymouth economy and creating attractive jobs for STEM pupils.”

Dr Mike Green of Chess said: “We were delighted to host Johnny at our Plymouth office and show him the innovative research and development Chess is undertaking. We are dedicated to producing industry leading technology in Plymouth, and have plans for rapid growth over the next few years in the area."



Venture Capital Trust Association (VCTA) submission to the Treasury Select Committee’s SME Finance Enquiry

VCTs offer young, innovative and high-tech businesses up to £12m (£20m for Knowledge intensive SMEs) of risk capital for the long-term growth and development with experienced investors who offer their own human capital to help SMEs overcome the challenges they face when scaling up. 

Changes to the scheme rules in November 2015 have resulted in extremely lengthy delays in HMRCs processing of VCT investment applications.  These delays are preventing the effective delivery of risk finance to SMEs, causing serious problems for the businesses themselves.  Addressing these delays would mean that VCTs would be more effective in being able to invest in SMEs across the UK who are trying to scale up and employee more people.

Within the last few weeks, and while this inquiry into SME finance has been taking place, HM Treasury and HMRC have begun to address this issue. HMRC have said that they will not withdraw VCT status for an ‘inadvertent’ breach of the investment rules where the VCT has relied on the opinion of professional advisers before making an investment.

This is a helpful step but the VCTA believes that for VCTs to once again rely on professional advisors and unblock the investment process:

a.       HMRC needs to provide greater clarity concerning areas where it currently exercises a judgement over certain investment conditions;

b.      guidance on what actions a VCT would need to take to remedy an ‘inadvertent breach’ of VCT rules; and

c.       allow VCTs to hold a small number of investments that HMRC subsequently deems to be non-qualifying despite having relied on professional advisers.

Click here for more details about the Committee's inquiry.

See the full submission here. 

Venture Capital Trust Association (VCTA) submission to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee’s small businesses and productivity inquiry

Businesses supported by VCTs are typically highly productive and drivers of local growth.  The potential economic benefit of VCT funding is currently not being fully exploited due to restrictions surrounding time limits, funding levels and bureaucratic delays during HMRC’s advance assurance process.

An increase in the age of businesses that VCTs can provide finance to, alongside an increase in the size of investment permitted, would do much to encourage higher rates of productivity and more scale ups across the UK. There is currently a funding shortage in rounds between £5 million to £50 million and for companies with a market capitalisation of between £15 million and £100 million. These companies are typically 10 or more years old and are not eligible for VCT investment.

The bureaucratic delays at HMRC are severely undermining the ability of high growth small businesses to access the finance they need to scale up. The current target for HMRC to process advance assurance applications, as announced in the 2017 Budget is 15 days, yet the average length of time for clearance currently stands at 64 days. Due to the draconian penalties regime in place for investments found to be non-qualifying, businesses cannot receive the funding until the investment has been formally approved by HMRC.

Click here for more details about the Committee's inquiry. 

See the full submission here.