NI’s start-ups raising significantly higher funding rounds than previous years

Co-Fund NI says Series A/B rounds have more than doubled over the past two years

Belfast-based Cumulus Neuroscience, which has developed what it describes as a “Fitbit for the brain”, recently secured £6 million in investment

Belfast-based Cumulus Neuroscience, which has developed what it describes as a “Fitbit for the brain”, recently secured £6 million in investment

 

Start-ups and scaling companies in Northern Ireland are raising significantly higher funding rounds than in previous years, with investments levels also growing generally.

This is according to Brian Cummings, investment director at Co-Fund NI, an equity fund aimed at supporting business growth in the North.

“Companies here are raising more with the number of Series A rounds happening here more than doubled from 2019,” said Mr Cummings. “Some of this may be because a few of these companies brought their funding plans forward but it still shows that there is an appetite to back companies in Northern Ireland.

Co-Fund, which in March received an additional £16.1 million (€18.8 million) top-up from Invest NI in partnership with British Business Investments, a subsidiary of the British Business Bank, typically provides growth capital co-investment in deals valued at between £150,000 (€175,000) and £2 million (€2.3 million).

It has a total of £47.3 million (€55 million) to invest overall alongside private investors such as business angels. Over the year to the end of March 2021 it invested £7.7 million (€8.9 million), with a further £15.3 million (€17.8 million) provided through private investment in deals.

Deals

Some 15 of Co-Fund NI’s portfolio companies raised series A/B rounds during that period averaging £2.9 million (€3.3 million). Portfolio companies in total raised £50 million (€58.2 million) in the year to the end of March 2021.

Among the start-ups announcing deals recently include medtech companies Cumulus (formerly BrainWaveBank), which raised £6 million (€6.9 million), and Neurovalens and Axial3D, which raised more than £5 million (€5.8 million) and £3 million (€3.4 million) respectively. Other portfolio companies include Diaceutics, Fusion Antibodies, B-Secur and Plotbox.

Mr Cummings said Co-Fund NI could do bigger deals with other investors and VC funds in Ireland and Britain if more of them were aware of the calibre of companies current coming through in the North.

“Despite the Covid crisis, companies have continued to raise, and at a higher level than in previous years. We’d like this to be maintained and if possible for it increase again,” he said.