Success for the Aspire Fund: Everyclick, Altacor and other Deals of Women-led Companies are expected

aspire fundThe Aspire Fund has funded 2 women-led companies in deals totaling £850.000 pounds, as can be read in parlimentary readings in a Q&A with Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. In both cases the Aspire Fund matched the funding received by the companies from outside investors.

Aspire Fund

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many applications for funding have been made to the Aspire fund since its creation; and what proportion of (a) successful and (b) unsuccessful applications made to the fund were from female entrepreneurs.

Ms Rosie Winterton: Since the launch of the Aspire Fund on 19 November the fund has received around 80 general enquiries and 57 specific approaches for investment.

The Aspire Investment Committee has made two offers, both accepted, which are expected to complete by the end of June and early July, totalling £850,000.

There are seven further deals under active consideration totalling around £3.4 million of investment.

All of the 57 approaches have related to businesses where the founder or co-founder is female or a significant proportion of the senior management team are female.

First deal: Polly Gowers of Everyclick

everyclickAn investment of £350k from the £12.5m Aspire Fund to Everyclick, the on-line platform which enables consumers to make secure donations to any one of the UK’s 200,000 charities. The company was founded by Polly Gowers who was voted WEBA Ethical Entrepreneur of the Year 2007 and a Blackberry Woman in Technology Award winner in 2008.

The Aspire Fund’s £350,000 of equity funding completes a £700,000 funding round which will ensure that Everyclick has access to fresh working capital and can maintain its impressive growth through new business development and contract wins.

Second deal: Dr Fran Crawford, CEO and co-founder of Altacor

The second investment of £500,000 was made in Altacor, an ophthalmology development and marketing company in Cambridge, set up in 2007 by serial entrepreneur of emerging biotech companies Dr Fran Crawford. Altacor develops and markets prescription medicines within the field of ophthalmology. It focuses on three key areas - ocular surface disease, ocular infection and glaucoma.

AltacorThe funding consisted of a 1 million pounds first tranche of Series B funding. The Aspire Fund participated alongside institutional investor Esperante and existing investors Beringea's Proven VCT and angel investors who also participated.

Aspire Fund: The Criteria

Established in November 2008, the £12.5m Aspire Fund targets support for women-led businesses with an objective to increase the number of successful female entrepreneurs within the UK, ensuring that those with real potential to succeed are not held back through a lack of growth capital. The Fund is able to make equity investments of between £100k and £1m, providing up to 50% of capital in a funding round alongside other private investors. The Fund is managed by Capital for Enterprise.
The objective of the fund is to increase the number of successful Women led businesses within the UK, ensuring that those with real potential to succeed are not held back through a lack of growth capital.
Because the Aspire Fund has been established with the intention of helping female entrepreneurs there are a number of key measures that are tracked for any investment:

  • The composition of the board and executive team, whether or not these have more than 30% representation by women.
  • The ownership of the equity in the business (once third party investors, e.g. VC funds and business angels, are discounted).
  • The role of senior female executives within the business.

The Aspire Fund’s co-investment approach aims to extend the range of companies that can be supported with the capital available, as well as meeting requirements for state aid. The fund will provide up to 50% of funding for any one investment, alongside other private investors.

In all cases the overall strength of the business case and the expected long term potential are the key factors that will determine whether the Aspire Fund is able to support a specific business. In addition to this there are a number of mandatory characteristics that a business must comply with in order gain funding. The business must:

  • be incorporated in the UK.
  • fit within the EU definition of an SME (see for a current guidance).
  • operate entirely or substantially within the UK

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