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Two new Equity Funds announced for investments in innovative SMEs

BELFAST NORTHERN IRELAND, 15 Oct 2019: Invest Northern Ireland today launched two new Equity Funds offering investments to innovative high growth potential SMEs.

Pictured (L-R) are William McCulla, Director of Corporate Finance, Invest NI with Jamie Andrews, Partner, Techstart Ventures and Colin Walsh, Partner, Crescent Capital.
Pictured (L-R) are William McCulla, Director of Corporate Finance, Invest NI with Jamie Andrews, Partner, Techstart Ventures and Colin Walsh, Partner, Crescent Capital.

The TechStart II Seed Fund and Crescent Capital IV Development Fund have been created as part of Invest NI’s Access to Finance portfolio which provides loan and equity funding to SMEs.

Launching the new funds, William McCulla, Director of Corporate Finance at Invest NI, said: “The Techstart II and Crescent IV funds will build on the success of prior funds in providing equity finance to start-up and early stage innovative high growth potential SMEs. The previous TechStart and Crescent funds helped over 60 companies raise equity investment to realise their growth ambitions, create jobs and bring new products to market.

Some of Northern Ireland’s most exciting technology companies have emerged from these portfolios and we look forward to building on these prior successes by investing in early and development stage companies through their growth phase and on to exit.

Colin Walsh, Partner at Crescent Capital

“Future investments will support Northern Ireland companies to grow in global markets, encourage entrepreneurship and help to rebalance and rebuild our economy by driving private sector growth.”

Techstart Ventures will manage the £30 million TechStart II fund and will offer initial investment rounds averaging around £300,000 and up to £2 million in any one company over a series of rounds. The Proof of Concept grant programme remains a key offering, with companies being able to obtain grant funding ranging from £10,000-£35,000 to progress concept ideas.

Commenting on its appointment, Jamie Andrews, Partner in Techstart Ventures, said, “We are delighted to be appointed as managers of TechStart II. Techstart has been a very successful source of investment and concept funding, helping nearly 300 businesses bring forward growth plans and supporting businesses to accelerate the development of their products. Our renewed focus will be on start-up companies and small businesses in the early stages of innovation. The new fund will continue to work with the local universities to provide investment and assistance in university spin-out companies.”

The £65 million Crescent Capital IV fund will be managed by Crescent Capital and will offer companies within the technology, life sciences and manufacturing sectors investments of up to £2.5 million in initial investment rounds and up to £5 million in any one company.

Techstart has been a very successful source of investment and concept funding, helping nearly 300 businesses bring forward growth plans and supporting businesses to accelerate the development of their products.

Jamie Andrews, Partner in Techstart Ventures

Colin Walsh, Partner at Crescent Capital, said, “The launch of Crescent Capital IV is a great milestone. This is the fourth venture capital fund to be established by Crescent which has made investments in 38 companies across its three prior funds. Some of Northern Ireland’s most exciting technology companies have emerged from these portfolios and we look forward to building on these prior successes by investing in early and development stage companies through their growth phase and on to exit.”

TechStart II and Crescent Capital IV are part financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the EU investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014-2020.


GoReport Growth Accelerates with Investment from Crescent Capital

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND, 6 Jun 2019: GoReport, the developer of market-leading digital building surveying software, has secured a £500,000 investment from Crescent Capital, the leading Northern Ireland venture manager, to support its ambitious accelerated growth plans.

Belfast based firm GoReport has enjoyed significant growth over the past two years, having secured an enviable position as a market-leading developer of mobile digital surveying software to the property sector.

This new investment from Crescent Capital enables GoReport to accelerate growth and take advantage of existing and new market opportunities.

GoReport software enables site data to be easily captured quickly and accurately using a mobile device and generates quality reports from which informed decisions on the management and investment of a property can be made. The solution is used by building surveyors, project managers, fire safety consultants, insurance loss adjusters and many other professions.

Welcoming the investment, GoReport Chief Executive Officer, Anthony Walker said: ‘The property sector is changing at an unprecedented pace. Surveyors face an increasing number of opportunities that are only open to those who can demonstrate ability and experience in using digital technology. As digitisation continues to expand, PropTech is now a more mainstream requirement than an optional extra. We are in the perfect position to take advantage of this fast growing market.’

‘This partnership with Crescent Capital will enable us to add the highly skilled resources and new product development to increase our penetration in the property sector and help fuel our expansion into new markets and territories,’ commented David Bell, GoReport Chairman.

Bob McGowan-Smyth, Investment Director at Crescent, who has joined the GoReport board as a non-executive director, added: ’We back strong ideas and experienced teams. This investment marks a first for us in PropTech. The high-calibre management team at GoReport immediately impressed us as it is delivering notable recurring revenues and strong market growth from a continually growing customer base.’

Notes to Editors:

  • GoReport is the trading name of MobileReport Ltd. Headquarters are in Belfast, with staff in Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
  • Crescent Capital is the leading Belfast based venture capital fund manager.

Modern Democracy Celebrates Successful Delivery of Modern Polling Solution in 2019 UK Elections

NORTHERN IRELAND, May 2019: Modern Democracy is celebrating the successful deployment of its revolutionary new digital technology in the UK’s 2019 local elections.

Established in 2014, Modern Democracy already employs a team of 20. Its award winning Modern Polling platform, the first of its kind, was successfully deployed in 143 Polling Stations in England.

Modern Polling brings an online electoral register to the Polling Station and a dashboard with real time information displaying statistics such as number of ballots and voter turnout.

Modern Polling Dashboard

Founder Siobhan Donaghy says she owes the successful delivery of the Modern Polling software to a loyal and dedicated team:

‘Our people developed the cutting edge software and delivered first class services to our customers. Plus. We’re backed by incredible local support of InvestNI. We also have the confidence of our investors, a number of NI based business angels, and recently completed a £750,000 funding round which was led by Crescent Capital and supported by Techstart.’

Modern Democracy employs more than 20 people in Derry City and continues to expand. Right now, that expansion is creating a number of exciting new vacancies for talented individuals.


Queen’s Award for Shnuggle

NEWTOWNARDS, Co Down, 23 April 2019 – Crescent portfolio company, Shnuggle, has been recognised with a Queen’s Award. 

Picture of Sinead Murphy and Adam Murphy, Shnuggle's founders
Sinead Murphy and Adam Murphy, Shnuggle’s founders

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the most prestigious awards for UK businesses, recognising and celebrating business excellence across the UK. 

Shnuggle has been honoured in the category of ‘International Trade for Outstanding Short Term Growth in overseas sales over the last three years’.

Read more at Shnuggle.com


Shnuggle Strikes Green…

NEWTOWNARDS, Co Down, 10 December 2018: another award for Shnuggle; this time as a recipient of one of Crescent Capital’s much coveted Green Bar Awards.

Crescent’s Bob McGowan-Smyth presents the Green Bar Award to Sinead Murphy (Founder/CCO) and Adam Murphy (Founder/CEO)

The Green Bar Award is for companies within the Crescent portfolio that deliver profitability for five consecutive quarters (thereby achieving five green bars in its quarterly performance chart!).

This is very challenging and it’s been over two years since one was handed out but Shnuggle has proved to be up for it and is a most worthy recipient.

Shnuggle has been going from strength to strength under Adam and Sinead’s leadership.

Congratulations to the newest recipient of Crescent Capital’s Green Bar Award.


Shnuggle’s Growth Success Continues With Largest Export Deal To Date

NEWTOWNARDS, NORTHERN IRELAND, 16th August 2018 Crescent’s Shnuggle, the multi award winning clever baby products company, has announced its biggest export contract to date with the world’s leading Asia Pacific distributor, Bloom & Grow.

This latest partnership will see the launch of the Shnuggle brand in Australia as well as supporting further growth of Shnuggle’s Asian market share, reaching a potential population of just under two billion people.

Bloom & Grow kick started the deal by officially launching Shnuggle in Shanghai at the CBME fair in China last month, adding to their ever-increasing global reach.

Bloom & Grow is a significant addition to the ever-growing list of Shnuggle’s export territories and the brand will join other major players in the portfolio such as Skip Hop, Ergobaby, Trunki and Nuby.

Shnuggle currently export to over 35 countries, adding 18 of those this year alone following major launches in America, Canada, South Africa and Japan.

Following launch, South Africa saw two months of stock sell out in three days through distributor Step South and in the USA and Canada, ALCA distribution have already secured listings in Buy Buy Baby, Best Buys and Target.

In South Korea, the Shnuggle Bath is the market leading premium baby bath and continues to grow with the recent launch of new colourways designed exclusively for this market.

Success for the Shnuggle brand is not just through the company’s export division.

The UK business has seen significant growth this year following increased distribution with Mothercare, Mamas and Papas, Argos and exclusive lines at John Lewis.

Sinead Murphy, Co-Founder of Shnuggle commented ‘We are thrilled to announce the partnership with Bloom & Grow. This is a major turning point for the business and to be welcomed by such a large distributor and to sit alongside the number of credible brands in their portfolio is really exciting for us. We have invested heavily into growing the export business while continuing to support and expand our UK retailers and we are very much looking forward to watching the Shnuggle brand grow in these new territories.’

Alexandra Dickson Leach, Founder and CEO of Bloom & Grow said ‘Bloom & Grow are thrilled to be bringing the Shnuggle bath range to all of our territories. The products are innovative, and I have no doubt they will be welcomed by parents across Asia and Australia.’