CodeBase joins £150m effort to accelerate digital sector

CodeBase chairman Jamie Coleman will act as an investment lead for Accelerated Digital Ventures. Picture: Murdo MacLeod

CodeBase chairman Jamie Coleman will act as an investment lead for Accelerated Digital Ventures. Picture: Murdo MacLeod

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Edinburgh’s CodeBase technology incubator is joining an initiative aimed at accelerating the development of more digital technology start-ups.

The hub’s co-founder, Jamie Coleman, will act as one of three investment leads for the Accelerated Digital Ventures (ADV) platform. It plans to invest an initial £150 million to help thousands of fledgling firms across the UK scale up and follow in the footsteps of tech successes such as Skyscanner, the Edinburgh-based travel search engine that was last week acquired by Chinese group Ctrip.com in a deal worth about £1.4 billion.

READ MORE: Chinese tech giant swoops on Skyscanner

Coleman told The Scotsman that he had been working for more than two years in an effort to get funding in place for Britain’s tech sector to be able to go “toe to toe with Silicon Valley”, and said he wanted CodeBase to eventually have a presence in “every major city in the UK” as it searches for the digital giants of the future.

He said that ADV will fund companies from their very first steps all the way through to an eventual exit, including possible flotations on the London market, and added that its first investments will be unveiled “very rapidly”.

Newcastle-based ADV is backed by three institutional investors — the British Business Bank, Legal & General Capital and Woodford Investment Management – and has a long-term goal of investing £200m or more every year into start-ups based in the UK.

L&G Capital managing director Paul Stanworth said: “The UK has faced chronic under-investment in physical and digital infrastructure for far too long. If we are to capture and catapult the best of British enterprise more akin to Silicon Valley, we need early-stage capital support.”

READ MORE: Scottish firms struggling to break £1m revenue mark

ADV said its “reach and expertise” will extend to digital technology hubs in cities including Glasgow, Belfast, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford and Sheffield.

Chief executive Lee Strafford, who founded internet service provider Plusnet, said: “We have established ADV to help more of our emerging start-ups and scale-ups to ‘scale big’. There are world-class innovators in every corner of the UK. We intend to seek out the best investment opportunities at scale and ensure these companies, irrelevant of size and location, have the support they need to supercharge growth.”

Under the initiative, CodeBase – one of Europe’s fastest-growing tech hubs – will provide scale-up support and space, while venture capital firm Northstar Ventures will deliver investment operations and corporate adviser Numis Securities will offer ongoing financial advisory support.

Keith Morgan, chief executive of the government-owned British Business Bank, said: “This new venture platform, supported by our Enterprise Capital Funds programme, will help innovative digital technology businesses to start up and scale up rapidly and successfully throughout all stages of their development.”

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