VenturePulse survey shows tech sector dominance in attracting VCs
Irish SMEs raised €285 million from investors in 2013, up 6% on the previous year, according to the annual Irish Venture Capital Association VenturePulse survey.
Over 95% of the funds in 2013 were raised by knowledge based companies covering software, medical devices, pharma and biotech.
“Venture capital is playing a vital role in fuelling the growth of Ireland’s indigenous technology sector,” said Mark Horgan, chairman, IVCA. “VC-backed companies tend to grow faster, employ more graduates and generate higher levels of exports than other indigenous SMEs.”
However, Stephen Keogh, a corporate partner in William Fry, which acted as legal adviser in over 40 of the funding rounds during the year, expressed concern that activity levels were beginning to slow.
“Irish VC firms are entering the end of the investment term within their existing funds. New capital will need to be raised from the private sector to fund SMEs into the future.”
Keogh added that Irish pension funds, which are valued at over €80 billion, should consider venture capital investment as a small part of a diversified investment strategy.
“Because of low returns from cash and bonds, pension funds are seeking alternative investments. Right now, as an asset class, venture capital is offering a good investment opportunity. IPOs are on the increase and exits are back on the agenda with Tier 1 global tech firms willing to spend their cash on acquiring VC backed tech companies.”
Regina Breheny, director general, IVCA added that the Irish venture capital community continues to be the main source of funding for Irish innovative SMEs both through direct investment and as the local lead investor for international syndicates.
“In 2013 funds raised from international players was €119 million, an increase of 22% on 2012. Since the onset of the credit crunch in 2008, over €650 million of international funds has been leveraged by Irish VCs into indigenous SMEs.”
She added that first round funding was 18% of funds raised compared to 20% in 2012. “Seed funds supported by the banking sector and EI’s Seed & Venture Capital Programme of 2006-2012 are close to being fully invested. These funds will need to be renewed if entrepreneurs are to be supported as actively as in the last five years.”