Par Equity steps up investment activity across the North of the UK

L-R Paul Munn & Andrew Noble

PAR Equity is celebrating a record-breaking year despite the challenges inflicted by Covid-19 on much of the economy.

Par deployed more than £17m of capital – 48% more than last year – into its portfolio companies, which in turn raised a further £26m from third party investors.

Specialising in investing in young, high-growth businesses, Par was the “lead investor” for more than 75% of those transactions.  

Its Edinburgh-based investment team identifies and backs businesses with novel, scalable technologies in what Par calls “deep tech”.

That is companies that solve substantial scientific and engineering challenges using technologies such as artificial intelligence, advanced materials, nanotechnology, photonics and quantum computing.

The current portfolio of 40 companies includes rising stars like Current Health (Edinburgh and Boston), Cumulus (Belfast), Nova Pangea Technologies (Middlesbrough), Integrated Graphene (Stirling) and Novosound (Glasgow).  

Par successfully led eight investments in March, including a £5m Series A round into Cyan Forensics, an Edinburgh based provider of “game changing” technology to law enforcement agencies and social media companies, which identifies and blocks harmful digital content such as child pornography and terrorism.

With the technology the police can analyse seized computers and mobile phones in the field, and understand within minutes if a device contains harmful material. The investment round will enable Cyan to scale internationally, taking the technology to the global market at a time when governments are prioritising solutions to combat this type of crime.

The technology will be further developed so that social media operators and file sharing platforms can use it to block harmful content before it’s even uploaded to their sites.

Three of Par’s investments in March were into Northern Irish companies, which collectively raised more than £6m of funding.

For example, Par led a £2.2m investment into Datactics, which operates in the fast-growing data and data quality management industry, providing software and services to large businesses that want to improve and control the quality of the data in their computer systems.

The platform allows businesses in highly regulated sectors such as financial services and government agencies to deduplicate, clean-up and enrich sensitive information such as customer addresses.

The company will use the new investment to accelerate its growth by investing in sales resources focused on London and international markets. 

Par recognises the need to support businesses through several rounds of funding. Last week, for example, the company invested a further £3m into Current Health, as part of its £31m Series B funding. Par’s total investment in Current Health is now more than £7m across multiple investment rounds since 2016. 

Paul Munn, Par Equiry managing partner, said: “We know what is needed to take a company from its infancy and turn it into a success story. Our role is enabling the ongoing provision of capital and expertise to these fast growth tech companies. In order to build global champions in the North of the UK Par will be steadfast in our support of our portfolio.”

Par has invested in 62 companies since it started in 2008. Collectively, those companies have raised £266m from investors and much of this investment has been used to build out the world class teams they need to succeed.  

Andrew Noble, Par Equity partner, added: “We recognise the challenges that the pandemic has brought to many people across the UK, so it’s especially rewarding to be creating jobs through our investment activities.  

“Employment within our portfolio companies increased from a total of 650 people to 885 in a year. But we want to do more.

“Over the last 12 months, we’ve invested heavily in Par Equity itself, building out our infrastructure and reach to support more companies.

“For example, we strengthened our network of angel investors and business mentors with the appointment of regional chairs in Aberdeen, Newcastle and Belfast. They are our “partners on the ground”, identifying and flagging the emerging talent in their region.

“We’ve also established a head-hunter panel to build out a talent pipeline for our portfolio companies. We’ve seen an increasing number of attractive opportunities in the North of the UK and we’re planning for the next 12 months to be even better!” 

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