The Cambridge brand attracts UK venture capital

November 26
6:19 AM 2013

The home the hosted scientists from Charles Darwin to Stephen Hawking and a consortium of startups ranging from the semiconductor and big data industry is now veering away investor attraction from Shoreditch. The once-gritty East London neighborhood was also a breeding ground of tech startups. In a Bloomberg report, the reason was attributed to the fact that British venture capitalists are now attracted to heavy-duty technology. The shift also indicated the waning reception of investors in social media and e-commerce ideas in London.

London venture firm Balderton Capital investor Harry Briggs said, "We are attending more events there, getting up there more often -- significantly more than a couple of years ago. These things go in cycles; the froth of consumer companies begins to ebb, and people look for more solid business models."

Cambridge has garnered some high-profile fans, Bloomberg said in its report. Autonomy Corp Plc founder Mike Lynch created a USD1 billion venture fund in Cambridge. It was also in Cambridge where Lynch established Autonomy. Lynch sold Autonomy to Hewlett-Packard Co for USD11.1 billion in 2011, which is now under investigation by Britain's Serious Fraud Office for claims regarding accounting irregularities. Lynch denied the accusations and remains a key member of the UK tech community. University affiliated Cambridge Innovation Capital has GBP50 million or USD81 million in its coffers for investments in the next three years. Accounting firm KPMG has been creating a fund for data and analytics investments worth USD100 million, and its focus areas include Cambridge.

U.K. lead for KPMG Capital Alwin Magimay said, "(Cambridge) is a very powerful brand in its own right, and it becomes a magnet to attract all of these companies."

According to the British Venture Capital Association, venture capital investments in UK regions including Cambridge increased for the first time since 2009 from GBP19 million to GBP23 million, even though total venture capital investments in London declined last year from GBP131 million to GBP126 million.

Venture firm Accel Partners partner Harry Nelis explained the increase, "Cambridge has always had companies that had deep invention behind them and really deep intellectual property. (In Shoreditch), people are much more in tune with consumers but they're not always based on deep intellectual property or defensible business models."

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