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Draper Esprit raises £160m to invest in European tech firms

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Prominent venture capital firm Draper Esprit has raised £160m in new funding to invest in high-growth digital tech businesses across Europe.

The firm, which has invested in well-known tech firms such as LoveFilm, Clue, Graze, Pushdoctor, Graphcore, Perkbox and Crowdcube, raised £100m through its listed company from a range of new and existing institutional investors.

Draper Esprit, which raised £153m through its IPO last year, drew funds from investors including Invesco Perpetual and Hargreave Hale – both of whom join Woodford Investment Management, Baillie Gifford and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.

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The remaining £60m was raised via EIS, VCT and secondary co-investment funds.

As a listed vehicle, Draper Esprit differs from other venture capital funds in that this money will not be invested across five years. Instead, the firm will seek to deploy the funds across an approximate one year period.

Simon Cook, CEO at Draper Esprit, spoke about the raise and addressed recent concerns about the ‘uncertain’ future that British VC fundraising faces in the wake of Brexit.

“At Draper Esprit we believe our industry can find new investors and that the UK can continue to play a significant role in leading the wider European VC market.

“As a permanent capital listed company, dual-listed in the UK and Ireland, we can access public markets by offering a partnership model with investors who wouldn’t otherwise have access to, or the capacity to actively manage, these type of investments; as well as reinvesting our realisations from exits into the next generation of tech businesses each year without the need to raise a new fixed life private fund every five years,” he added.

Cook went on to note that the firm was on the lookout for “forward-thinking and innovative businesses”.

“If we continue to grow our co-investment funds and make further realisations for reinvestment, at this rate we would over the five years of a typical LP fund, have the equivalent of £800m (approximately $1bn) to deploy, making us a strong partner in Europe and filling a much needed gap in the market post Brexit,” Cook concluded.

The news comes after technology entrepreneurs in the UK spoke out following a loss of funding from the European Investment Fund (EIF) as a result of Britain’s vote to depart from the European Union.

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