The Ascension Investment Team is responsible for sourcing, negotiating, implementing and managing investments
They are an established group of investment professionals with extensive experience of both investment and hands-on management of SMEs. They profit from the active industry connections essential for the sourcing and development of deal-flow, deal structuring, and market due diligence
The Ascension Investment Team is extremely well connected to the UK’s leading angel networks and early stage VCs, which helps to secure follow-on funding for the portfolio businesses as they move to their next growth stage
Chairman & Investment Committee
Arthur has over 40 years experience supporting innumerable entrepreneurial management teams to realise their aspirations, with his depth of experience in Leveraged Finance and Private Equity.
He started his career with Bank of Scotland and was involved in dozens of MBOs across a variety of sectors and range of sizes. As the former Managing Director of Lloyds Banking Group Family Office business he also had principal relationship responsibility for the diverse business activities of some of the UK’s largest and best- known self made entrepreneurs, with business interests typically well in excess of £1bn turnover.
He is passionate about supporting the next generation of Entrepreneurs.
Jean de Fougerolles
Jean has over 20 years experience working in media and digital businesses. After obtaining his MBA from INSEAD in 1996, he became Head of Distribution for MTV Europe out of the London office.
He then started working at Two Way TV, a pioneer in interactive technology, games and digital content, where he became CEO and structured partnership deals with many leading content owners (Big Brother, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, X-Factor, Deal or No Deal, Test the Nation), broadcasters (BBC, ITV, C4, C5, Sky Sports, Flextech, Cartoon Network), and platforms (Sky, Virgin, UPC, BT). In 2008, Jean led the sale of Two Way Media to Virgin Media and a leading private equity group.
Jean is originally from Montreal where he received his BA in History with Honours from McGill University. After a year in Czechoslovakia teaching English and French at Masaryk University in Brno, he became an economist in New York after having completed a Masters Degree in International Relations from Columbia University.
Jean is also an active angel investor and was an early seed investor in Atom Films, eventually sold to Viacom for $200m.
Kieran joined Ascension in 2013 running its Operations. He is part of the investment team analysing new business opportunities, and continually works with the portfolio businesses to progress them.
Before joining Ascension Ventures, Kieran worked for a proprietary trading house in the city as a Derivatives Trader, an Account Director at an online video start-up, and a Freelance Journalist for the Guardian newspaper. He graduated from Westminster University in 2010, with a first class honours degree in Journalism.
Emma Blackburn brings over 20 years experience leading finance teams both in the US and UK. Graduating from Stanford University with a Bachelors degree in Economics and Masters degree in Industrial Engineering, Emma worked in Audit and M&A for Ernst and Young, before moving in-house first at EQE International and then at Siebel Systems. Emma established and administered all financial systems for international subsidiaries during the explosive growth period of Siebel Systems, “the fastest growing company in the United States (Fortune Magazine, 1999)”.
Emma has held the CFO position at a number of start-up and scale-up UK technology companies. She is an active angel investor with a strong passion for both impact investing and investing in female founded companies. Outside of work, Emma is an avid traveler and boater, having renovated and cruised a barge around Europe, on which she now resides.
Emma leads finance as CFO at Ascension Ventures.
Investment Manager (FBD Fund)
Emma joins the team having worked as an Analyst for Social Impact Finance from Eastside Primetimers. Emma previously worked for 5 years in corporate Banking at Santander Bank and also has a Masters degree in Development Economics from the University of Sussex.
Luke recently graduated from Imperial College with an MSc in Environmental Technology and also has an MA in Geography from Edinburgh University. Luke has previous experience working in social impact start-ups, consulting and environmental sectors . He is a keen adventurer and has raised over £350,000 for charities; rowing across the Atlantic Ocean in 2013 and recently running 260km through the desert in Jordan.
Nico is a recent graduate of the World Bachelor in Business Program, a first-of-its-kind joint venture undergraduate Business program between the University of Southern California, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Università Bocconi of Milan. Nico joins Ascension with previous experience interning in investment banking and venture capital.
Investment Director, UK - India fund
Vaibhav has 10 years’ experience across finance, public policy and technology sectors. He worked as a Public Policy Specialist at NITI Aayog, the Government of India’s premier policy think tank, where He was part of the core team which supports the Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog on various policy matters. He was also part of the team that worked on the three-year Action Agenda for India which was released in August 2017.
Vaibhav was also a corporate financier in London based investment banks for 5 years. Additionally, he was instrumental in setting up data-led strategy capabilities for two ad-tech start-ups in London, where he cumulatively worked for a little less than 2 years. Vaibhav holds a Masters in Financial Economics from the University of Oxford and a Bachelors degree in engineering from Panjab University Chandigarh. He is the Investment Director of the Unicorn Ascension Fund and responsible for deal sourcing and execution.
Sam has a diverse background of 15 years in banking, venture capital and treasury management, having worked on funding start-up businesses through to working as part of a team that delivered transactions with EVs of £40m plus.
Sam is a member of the Ascension Ventures Board with a particular focus on investing in Midlands-based businesses. He has built up a significant network and is able to draw on many sources to enable successful completion of transactions. Sam believes that bringing a network of people to an opportunity is just as important as investing cash.
Charles Breese has over 30 years of experience of investing in start-up, early stage and quoted smaller companies, harnessing technology to derive competitive advantage. He previously worked for KPMG and then became the Managing Director of Larpent Newton & Co Ltd. Larpent Newton provides the resources required to assist technology-based companies wanting to develop from being unquoted through to an AIM listing and ultimately to achieving a trade sale.
Ascension Ventures is an appointed representative of Larpent Newton. Charles is also a director of Hygea VCT (which focuses on Medtech), Octopus VCT plc., and is the investment manager for the London Business Angels EIS Fund, one of the UK’s biggest and most successful angel networks. His active participation will enhance Ascension’s deal-flow, co-investment, and follow-on investment activity from his angel network.
Remy was founder and CEO at CSC Media Group Ltd, which, when sold to Sony Pictures Television in 2014 for approximately £107m, operated 16 ad-supported television channels and associated websites/VOD channels in the UK.
Remy has worked in broadcast and interactive media for nearly 20 years. Previous to CSC Media, Remy served as the Commercial Director of YooMedia Plc, where his focus was on building and managing their successful and profitable gaming business. Before YooMedia, Remy served as Head of Strategy at Telewest Broadband where he was responsible for implementing Telewest’s broadband content strategy.
Sue formed Finance Birmingham with Birmingham City Council and has led the growth of the business from a Business Loan Fund of £10 million to £300 million, through a range of funds and programmes, both locally and on a national scale. Sue has over a decades experience of CEO posts in regulated businesses including The Exchange, Regional Stock Exchange and Finance Birmingham. Sue is passionate about the SME community and the role they play in the economy’s recovery and growth. A strong commercial focus and corporate experience has secured the support of both public and private sector initiatives. Sue is part of the Ascension Ventures Board.
Craig Fletcher is an active angel investor, tech and video gaming entrepreneur, thought leader and public speaker, with over 20 years experience in Esports, events and video gaming.
Craig founded Multiplay in 1997 and led its growth to become the largest video gaming events and esports company in the UK as well as the largest provider of online gaming servers in the UK. After brokering Multiplay’s acquisition by GAME Digital PLC in March 2015 he then led the strategy and partnerships around Esports and competitive gaming for the GAME Group, whilst still supporting Multiplay as a key company within it, until leaving this time role in December 2017. Craig now acts as as a business angel, consultant and investor in the esports, media, tech and video gaming space.
Ken Harrell has extensive experience in mergers and acquisitions, restructurings, refinancings, and principal investments.
He leads Pharus Advisors, a New York based M&A firm, in areas including EdTech, digital media, and broadcast technology, and also has relevant experience across multiple sectors, BPO, enterprise software, industrial technology, consumer products, energy and aerospace/defence.
Prior to founding Pharus, Ken assisted in starting Conway, Del Genio, Gries & Co. LLC, a restructuring and M&A advisory firm. Previously, Ken was a Managing Director and founding member of The Chart Group, L.P., an international
merchant banking advisory and private equity firm. He began his career in Ernst & Young’s M&A and restructuring advisory practice and helped build Ernst & Young’s practice in Eastern Europe.
Ken graduated with a BS from The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and earned an M.A. in Comparative European Studies from the University of Sussex. He is also an active Angel Investor.