Margot James, the government’s new Small Business Minister, announced the launch of a £40m Enterprise Capital Fund, which will be run by Active PE, last week at the ScaleUp Institute’s Manchester Conference.
Announcing the decision, James said: ““Small businesses are at the heart of our economy and the whole country benefits when they grow and create jobs for people.
“The government-owned British Business Bank is helping more than 48,000 businesses with over £3.1bn of support, much of it going to those with high-growth potential.”
Spencer Skinner, a co-founder of Active PE, commented: “We’re excited to partner with the British Business Bank to help more entrepreneurs build lasting consumer businesses and brands. We will continue to invest in the consumer economy with Active ECF – where we can genuinely provide insight and value – and in businesses generating exceptional consumer excitement.”
Active PE is a UK based Growth Capital Fund based near Chelsea, specialising and focusing exclusively on consumer, leisure and retail.
The firm has invested into the likes of Honest Burger, Soho House, LEON restaurants, Finisterre and Evans Cycles and say their “mission is to help entrepreneurs develop and build exciting innovative brands and companies that have profound and lasting impact.”
The firm also says they place considerable emphasis on the “on-going nurturing and support we provide post-investment, and describe themselves as “entrepreneurs and business builders ourselves”.
Founding Partners Gavyn Davies, Spencer Skinner, and Nick Evans have all either founded or run companies; Evans is Chairman of Fulcrum Asset Management, and founding partner at Prisma Capital Partners, Skinner is now Chairman of Honest Burgers, and a non-executive director at Leon, iMPOWER and whocanfixmycar.com.
Evans is Chairman of the cycle company of the same name after leading the purchase of a majority stake in 2008, and is also Chairman of Leon and Rapha Racing, whilst Roger Swift, the fourth partner, spent 14 years at PWC before moving to Hotbed Group, Catalyst Group and finally Active in 2009, where he is Chief Operating Officer.
Keith Morgan, the British Business Bank CEO said “this important fund will enable more UK smaller businesses to get the investment and support they need to scale-up successfully”.
“Our Enterprise Capital Funds are a significant part of the UK’s early stage venture capital ecosystem, and the establishment of the new Active ECF brings the programme’s total investment capability to over £730m.”
The BBB’s Enterprise Capital Funds are “commercially focused funds which bring together private and public money to make equity investments in high growth businesses.”
The funds are managed by a variety of different investors from various backgrounds including venture capital and serial entrepreneurs who have shown they can grow early stage companies in the UK.
According to the BBB there is over £690m investment capacity in ECF funds, and the funds exist to try to encourage “venture capital funds to operate in a part of the market where smaller businesses are not able to access the growth capital they need.”
The BBB say they expect to invest in 2 to 3 funds per year.
The ScaleUp Institute is supported by the Goldman Sachs Foundation, Business Growth Fund, Google and the London Stock Exchange amongst others, and is dedicated to closing the “scale-up gap” by “creating a supportive public and private sector ecosystem that enables scale-up companies to fulfil their potential.”
The institute was launched in June 2015, chaired by Sherry Coutu CBE, with Irene Graham serving as CEO.