With 100 portfolio companies now under its belt, Co-Fund NI is fuelling Northern Irish innovation

Enterprise IoT company Kinsetsu is the 100th portfolio company of Co-Fund NI, an initiative managed by Belfast-based Clarendon Fund Managers and part-funded by the EU's European Regional Development Fund.
With 100 portfolio companies now under its belt, Co-Fund NI is fuelling Northern Irish innovation

A Northern Irish co-investment vehicle has disclosed its 100th portfolio company.

The Belfast-headquartered Co-Fund NI initiative is currently Northern Ireland's most active equity investor having invested nearly 90% of its £47.3 million allocation, pouring over £42 million into Northern Irish startups since its inception in 2011.

The funding, matched to a 35 - 65% split with private investors, has tracked Northern Irish investment rounds £285 million to date.

The 100th investment came through a £1.55 million fundraise for Belfast-based enterprise automation and IoT sensors outfit outfit Kinsetsu, with the venture capital firm Par Equity leading the round.

Co-Fund NI pitched in £300,000 for Kinsetsu's fundraise, which is also backed by the syndicate Business Angels. The funding is anticipated to help scale Kinsetsu's business model by enabling it to fulfil "large-scale contracts."

Kinsetsu's CEO, Joanne O'Doherty, said: "This funding from Co-Fund NI has come at a very important time for our business.

"In recent months we have secured a number of large contracts and this financial support will play a vital role in the expansion of our business operations. It will also support plans for further growth within the critical sectors we serve and help us to continue to provide positive change through our technology solutions.”

Co-Fund NI is managed by Belfast fund manager Clarendon Fund Managers. It is also supported by an offshoot of Invest Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland's flagship investment programme, through the latter's Access to Finance LP fund portfolio.

Also supporting Invest NI's contribution is the EU's European Regional Development Fund, which is investing from a 2014 EU funding allocation intended to generate Northern Irish jobs and economic growth.

Co-Fund NI also has a partnership deal with the UK's regional angel programme that's managed by British Business Investments,  a commercial subsidiary of the British Business Bank.

In a European tech context that still suffers from massive gender inequalities, Co-Fund NI has managed to make headway on better representation of women. 

Claudine Owens, investment manager at Clarendon Fund Managers, noted female founders played a role in companies representing over 25% of the Co-Fund NI portfolio, including Kinsetsu.

As for its other 99 investments, the vehicle extends into sectors like advanced manufacturing, engineering, financial services, healthcare, life sciences and digital IT. A Lisburn-based medical diagnostics imaging and informatics provider, Cirdan Imaging, was Co-Fund NI's initial investment. Cirdan Imaging recently announced a key product launch in the US.

"As an investor we are committed to supporting diversity and we’re proud that over a quarter of our businesses have a female founder," Owens said.

"We’re particularly pleased to welcome female-founded business, Kinsetsu, as our 100th portfolio company.”

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