Tuesday 15th November brought the much-anticipated unveiling of CCR’s £50 million Innovation Investment Capital fund – with a fully subscribed launch event at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium seeing a 180-strong audience enjoy learning how this fund will take SME innovation in South East Wales to a whole new level.
The event was expertly chaired by John-Paul Barker, PwC Regional Market Leader for Wales, who eloquently summed up the importance of a fund that will “change the landscape of SME innovation in our region, forever.” JP was not alone in his expectations for this pioneering investment programme, with keynote speaker contributions reflecting the full support being given to the programme by Government, the Welsh business communities and the wider innovation ecosystem.
The Rt Hon. David TC Davies, MP for Monmouth and Secretary of State for Wales, put the Innovation Investment Capital fund in a wider macro perspective, highlighting the importance of Innovation to the growth of the UK economy as a whole, praising the encouraging early successes already achieved by the CCR City Deal in being a focus for innovation and a catalyst for sustainable growth – and stressing the importance of supporting the entrepreneurial spirit and appetite for innovation that is apparent in South East Wales.
Kellie Beirne, Director of CCR City Deal, thanked the minister for the support shown by both UK and Welsh governments, who have enthusiastically backed the IIC fund – and reminded the audience of the imperative need to convert the Region’s strong research base into the tangible outcomes that are a hallmark of a thriving innovation ecosystem.
Kellie pointed out that CCR’s commitment to creating an “Innovation Readiness” has already brought two UK Strength in Places Fund investments to the Region – in the shape of significant funding for CCR’s Compound Semiconductor and Media industries – and that appetite for ‘good growth’ has also driven CCR’s establishment of a Strategic Premises Fund, as well as inspiring the major investments made in both the Cyber Innovation Hub and FinTech Wales.
“That same focus and sense of purpose is now driving the IIC fund for innovative scale-ups who need the support of patient capital – upping our Region’s innovation intensity and making sure we do all we can to ensure that the 55% of innovation funds earmarked for investment outside London and the Greater SouthEast lands with our brilliant SMEs” said Kellie.
Michael Magee, PwC Partner leading the firm’s Financial Services Deals Practice, walked the audience through the streamlined 5-step investment process of a pioneering funding programme created by CCR and powered by PwC: highlighting the emphasis on making patient capital available over an initial 5-year period to facilitate ‘good growth’ that support scaleable, ESG-centred and R&D-focused businesses – increasing the attractiveness of CCR to both indigenous and non-indigenous enterprises.
Dr. Joe Marshall, CEO of the National Centre for Universities and Businesses, provided an up-to-the-minute analysis of UK-wide Innovation, touching on levelling up, scoping the key regional and local differences across the UK, detailing the Rees Review findings (in particular the role of ‘investor relations’ that sit at the heart of the IIC) – stressing just how significant a factor is played by finance in UK innovation, and the importance of strengthening allegiances and connections across the innovation ecosystem.
The keynote speaker’s session was brought to a close by the inspirational words of Rhiannon Thomason, CEO of Human Data Sciences (HDS), who shared her views on why innovation is the lifeblood of any business looking to scale and grow, giving heartfelt insights into how CCR’s equity investment in HDS has enabled a pioneering Cardiff-based enterprise to scale up and transform global healthcare, through the growth of an expert team – and development of the advanced healthcare analytics that power the company’s revolutionary Livingstone platform.
Kellie Beirne noted just how prescient Rhiannon’s words are right now, for both CCR and the SMEs of a region that accounts for 50% of Welsh economic output:
“Getting ‘out there’ to see how we can help our businesses – as well as our academic collaborations and wider community challenges – is a core thread in the CCR DNA.
“It’s the reason we are here, to be a catalyst for good growth and generating shared prosperity for future generations.
“That’s why the whole team at CCR and our partners at PwC and Capricorn Fund Managers are so excited about the potential for good that’s inherent in this fund.
“Now it’s time to realise that potential, to the full.”
For more information on how the IIC fund is investing in SME innovation, go to: www.cardiffinnovationinvestment.com