Venture capital firm Beringea signals its intent to invest in Yorkshire’s tech businesses

Venture capital firm Beringea has signalled its intent to invest in more technology companies in Yorkshire after being impressed by strides the region has made in skills and infrastructure.

Wednesday, 31st July 2019, 9:25 am
Updated Wednesday, 31st July 2019, 10:25 am
Marc Shirman: 'We want to contribute to the ecosystem on both sides of the Pennines'

The investor is looking for tech firms with a turnover above £1m and a proven track record to put money into.

London-based Beringea believes that there is enough talent in the region for tech companies to flourish and hopes to be a piece of the jigsaw when it comes to funding.

Marc Shirman, investment director and head of Beringea’s Northern office, says things such as the opening of Leeds University’s Nexus building “is a really clear statement” that the environment is right for tech talent to flourish in the region.

Beringea has already invested in Manchester and Newcastle based tech companies but is yet to break into Yorkshire. However, it has got potential deals with Yorkshire firms in the pipeline.

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Mr Shirman told The Yorkshire Post: “We want to contribute to the ecosystem on both sides of the Pennines and prove that you can be a successful tech company or a high growth company in the North.

“You don’t have to travel down to and pay the rent, that you have to pay, in London and salaries that you have to pay in London. You can access the talent there.”

The investment director is based in Manchester but says he will be making frequent visits to Yorkshire as Beringea is aiming for a closer relationship with businesses it invests in.

While many financiers have a tendency for staying in London, with businesses travelling down to the capital, Beringea wants to make an effort to differentiate itself.

On a visit to Leeds, Mr Shirman said: “We’re a minority investor so it’s key that we support the management’s ambitions to execute their strategy. We’re not a controlling investor. If we’re going to do that it’s a true partnership and true partnerships mean creating relationships and maintaining relationships. We’re a firm believer that you have to be on the ground.”

Beringea, which was established in 1988, manages around $600m across its funds and offices in the UK and US. Alongside its London office, the firm also has an office in Detroit.

Henry Philipson, head of communications at Beringea, says the venture capital trust is looking to encourage more talent to stay in Yorkshire and take up jobs with tech start-ups in the region.

He said: “The appeal of coming to cities like Leeds is that there is clearly a growing tech focus. The talent has always been here, it’s just a case of trying to activate it.”

Mr Shirman added: “Most high growth scale businesses end up at some point trying to crack America and our experience, boots on the ground there and track record, mean that we can help do that.”

Seeking proven businesses

Beringea outlined the types of businesses that it wants to invest in with the venture capital firm promising a long-term vision.

Henry Philipson said: “We’re not super-early stage seed investors. Effectively, we’re looking for businesses that have demonstrated some traction and we believe can become lasting success stories rather than an overnight flash in the pan.”

The venture capital trust funds that Beringea manages allow it to be “more patient”, says Marc Shirman, because “they’re evergreen so they don’t have a realisation time horizon constraint”.