Good Food Fund Launches to Back Challenger Brands Fighting Childhood Obesity

Funding to support challenger food and drink brands to improve access to a healthier range of options through business partnerships will be the first main focus.

Big Society Capital and Guy’s and St Thomas’s Charity have partnered to fund Good Food Fund, a new Accelerator and Venture Fund which will be backing food and drink challenger SME and start-up brands to help tackle childhood obesity.

Business owners are invited to apply for a cut of the £1.8m Good Food Fund to come together in the fight against childhood obesity. The prototype fund will provide business support and allocate finances to brands committed to bringing healthier children’s brands to market. The Accelerator will be run by Mission Ventures and the Venture Capital Fund will be managed by Ascension Ventures.

The after-school snacking occasion for school children will be a key focus, with the long-term aim of transforming the options available through the support of healthier challenger brands at an affordable price point.

Good Food Fund has been under development for 18 months. COVID-19 highlights the need to invest in the health of our population, including that of children. Therefore, we believe this fund is needed now more than ever. We will be monitoring changes to consumer habits formed during the lockdown as well as how brands can best deliver affordable, tasty, convenient and healthy food to families in the future.

To apply, brands must be UK Limited Companies. The application form is simple with an initial on-line and digital selection process. The cut off for applicants to the accelerator is Monday 27th April and brands are invited to learn more about the programme and the selection criteria by visiting missionventures.co.uk/goodfoodfund. Successful applicants will receive a fully-funded package of business support from Mission Ventures. This will include a rigorous business review using the company’s own MissionMap, which will assess all aspects of the business and a plan for how it can be scaled to reach an accessible and sustainable price point. Participants can also apply for financial support in the form of equity and debt from Good Food Fund.

Good Food Fund is managed by early-stage Venture Capital firm Ascension Ventures and will offer debt and equity investments into businesses that have gone through the Accelerator, as well as other start-ups and challenger food brands keen to reduce childhood obesity. Ascension Ventures are one of the most active Seed investors in the UK and have been deploying the Fair By Design Fund (“FBD”) for two years, focused on reducing the Poverty Premium in the UK. The Ascension Ventures team will leverage the impact infrastructure they built with FBD to spearhead Good Food Fund. To apply to us directly, please send an email with a pitch deck to maryam@ascensionventures.com

“We are excited to partner on this hugely important initiative”, says Mission Ventures CEO Paddy Willis.

“Following groundwork last year, we are ready to explore how healthier challenger brands can play their part within market-led initiatives to combat childhood obesity, especially in families on lower incomes. We look forward to recruiting a broad range of SME brand owners and retailers, both on local borough initiatives and at a more strategic level. Through the combination of our team’s practical experience in launching, growing and scaling successful young brands, we believe we will change the landscape of healthy snacking for children.”

Ascension Ventures Managing Partner Jean de Fougerolles says:

“When the UK comes out of COVID-19, funds like Good Food Fund will play an even more relevant and crucial role by backing businesses and impact entrepreneurs that are solving key market failures and driving food innovations targeting households on lower incomes across the UK.”

Aman Johal, Investment Director at Big Society Capital says:

“At Big Society Capital, we want to tackle social issues at an early stage. We believe social investment can play an important role in changing food environments for the better. We’re excited to be a part of this pioneering project, working with expert partners to help scale challenger brands who can help improve access to healthier, affordable food for families on lower incomes.”

Matt Towner, Portfolio Manager at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity comments:

“We know that childhood obesity is an issue of inequality. The current market only caters for cheap options that are unhealthy, with healthier brands requiring customers to pay a high premium to cover costs. Together with our partners, we are taking on a big and exciting challenge as we aim to disrupt the food retail market. Our research suggests that if we increase the availability of affordable, tasty, convenient and healthier food, families on lower incomes will change their purchasing habits and benefit from healthier shopping baskets.”

 

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About Big Society Capital

Big Society Capital is the UK’s leading social impact investor, its role is to unite capital, expertise and ideas for better lives. Working with expert partners, BSC seeks to understand people’s needs first. Then, using their knowledge and capital, BSC collaborates and invests with fund managers who also want to create a better, sustainable future.

Fund managers and the social enterprises and charities they invest in, create the impact. BSCs role is to bring the most relevant experts from their network to the table, generating ideas and connecting capital to where it’s most needed. With the others who have invested alongside BSC, collectively have made over £1.9 billion* of new capital available to help improve lives. BSC wants to give more people and communities the chance to have an impact on the issues they care about – from affordable homes to vulnerable older people and preventing mental ill health.

In this way, they create opportunities for investors and enterprises to generate systemic social change, not just today but for generations to come.

*As at end December 2019

About Guys & St Thomas’s Charity

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity is an independent, place-based foundation focusing on urban health. It works with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and others to improve the health of people in the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark. The goal of its childhood obesity programme is to close the inequality gap by bringing the high rates of childhood obesity in neighbourhoods with the lowest incomes down to the level of the more affluent ones. For information on the broad range of initiatives it is funding see its website.

About Mission Ventures

Mission Ventures is helping to transform the food industry one challenger brand at a time. Three proven entrepreneurs, who have each disrupted grocery categories, have learned from their successes as well as their failures and are now sharing their experience and expertise with founders. Selling their companies for in excess of £50m, they are perfectly placed to facilitate a new era of innovation and disruption.

Since 2015, Mission Ventures has operated the UK’s first independent accelerator for ambitious start-up brands in food and drink. Seventeen companies have participated over the past four years, securing specialist advice alongside seed funding, with the portfolio that defies market norms by growing an average 300% in valuation and showing a 90% survival rate.

For more information contact Lesley Foottit at lesley.foottit@definitionagency.com or on 020 7927 8100.

About Ascension Ventures

Ascension Ventures is an early-stage VC built by exited entrepreneurs backing the next generation of tech and impact founders. Since 2015, Ascension has invested in 80+ start-ups and our specialist approach and extensive sector reach allow us to identify and scale pioneering tech enterprises. Current funds include the ASCEND SEIS (Seed), CENTAUR EIS (Seed+), and its Fair By Design social impact fund, helping to reduce poverty in the UK. For more information contact Alicia Burke at alicia@ascensionventures.com.

Fair By Design is a movement dedicated to ending the Poverty Premium: we invest in inclusive tech models that promote systems change and digital inclusion. People in poverty pay more for high-cost credit, rent-to-own products, and transport, food and insurance in less affluent postcodes. Our Campaign works with businesses, government, and regulators to design out the Poverty Premium. Our Venture Fund provides capital to help grow innovative ventures developing products that make markets fairer. For more information contact fbdfund@ascensionventures.com.

VC & Social Impact: Why I Joined Ascension Ventures’ Fair By Design Fund – Maryam Mazraei

Article by Maryam Mazraei

I recently visited Silicon Valley as part of my Technology Entrepreneurship Masters at UCL to meet various technology firms and VCs. I was blown away by the American enthusiasm and approach to start-ups, but also left feeling concerned by the striking societal divide. The city is home to some of the largest, innovative companies but much is to be said on their contribution to the people in the city who are either homeless or struggling to make ends meet.

I started looking more into social impact investing and the genuine change technology can have on the more vulnerable members in our society. Turning my attention back home, throughout the UK we are also seeing an increase in poverty with a striking rise in homelessness and many being driven out of their homes due to rising housing costs. Not only does this include the high rise in rental accommodation costs but also all necessities that come with it such as energy, insurance and day to day spendings on food and transportation. This brings me to my current role as an Investment Associate at Ascension Ventures focusing on their social impact fund called Fair By Design.

The Fair By Design Fund invests in early-stage technology businesses and social enterprises tackling the Poverty Premium. An estimated 14.3 million people (22% of the population) in the UK are living in poverty (source: Bristol University Report). People in poverty or on low incomes often pay more for the same products or services than those better off financially. This is the “Poverty Premium”, the extra costs of being poor.

The Fair By Design Fund is a £10m fund and so far we have invested in pioneering entrepreneurs and start-ups that find fairer ways to serve low-income consumers, tackling Premiums in key sectors such as financial services, energy, insurance, food/household goods and transportation. See our current portfolio companies here.

I have also been on the other side of the table as a founder in the past, understanding the difficulties of fundraising whilst running a business. The 2019 Diversity VC report states that ‘Just 8% of UK VCs know what it’s like to work at a start-up. Far more have been bankers or consultants.’ Hence why I recommend ex-founders to consider working at a Venture Capital at some point in their careers. The level of on-the-job learning is exceptionally satisfying and you still get to stretch your entrepreneurial muscles when having to spot the winning players.

I am thrilled to be working with such a strong and focused team and I believe, through our efforts in social impact investing, we can once and for all end the Poverty Premium in the UK and continue to lead a standard to inspire others to do the same for their local communities.

If your start-up is directly or indirectly targeting those from low-income households, don’t hesitate to send me your pitch deck: maryam@ascensionventures.com.

Follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter to continue the conversation around social impact investing.

Emma Steele Named as “Impact Investor” Finalist in DigitalAgenda Impact Awards

We are delighted to announce that Ascension Ventures’ Investment Manager, Emma Steele, has been shortlisted for the “Impact Investor” category in the 2020 DigitalAgenda Impact Awards. The awards are a celebration of UK Tech For Good, bringing together the latest champions using digital products or services for positive social impact.

One of 36 finalists across 12 different categories, Emma is nominated alongside Adam Beaumont and Richard Brass for “the best in impact funding of all kinds, across all platforms, by an individual.” Emma is the dedicated Investment Manager for Ascension’s social impact fund, Fair By Design, a movement dedicated to reducing the Poverty Premium – the extra costs of being poor. The Fund backs businesses using technology to provide better, fairer and cheaper goods and services to low-income households in the UK across energy, credit, insurance, transport, food and other household goods.

Ascension portfolio companies, Credit Kudos and Vinehealth, were also nominated in the Financial Inclusion and Health categories, respectively. A Fair By Design investee, Credit Kudos is a challenger credit bureau that harnesses Open Banking data to measure creditworthiness in a fairer way. Vinehealth is an AI-driven platform providing support to improve the quality of life and survival of cancer patients.

The winners will be announced at the DigitalAgenda Impact Awards Summit 2020 on the 5th of March. The People’s Choice Award is also now open to the public for voting and we would greatly appreciate your show of support for Emma, Credit Kudos, and Vinehealth. The voting is simple and should only take a minute to complete – vote here.

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You may also be interested in:

Is there a business case for ethics? Emma Steele highlights the power of tech in ethical business models on NatWest’s Technically Speaking podcast. Listen in to Episode 1 at 12:30 here (Natwest Business Hub).

Can tech help reinvent the community lending sector? Featuring Fair By Design portfolio, Credit Kudos and incuto. Read more here (Pioneers Post).

Scaling Innovation in the NHS – Vinehealth CEO Dr Rayna Patel talks to Digital Health. Listen to the podcast here (Digital Health Podcast).

Female Founder Office Hours

We’re excited to announce the launch of Ascension and Fair By Design‘s quarterly Female Founder Office Hours. The first session is on Thursday, 30th January.

If you’re a UK business interested in finding out more about our funds, please apply and share: http://bit.ly/AVFFOH

We’re Hiring: Investment Associate, Fair By Design Fund (“FBD”)

Investment Associate, Fair By Design Fund (“FBD”)

Company: Ascension Ventures / www.ascensionventures.com
Location: Central London
Type: Entry-level, permanent, full-time
Closing Date: 2nd December 2019

An exciting opportunity for an Investment Associate to join a social impact fund focused on investing in early-stage technology businesses and social enterprises tackling the Poverty Premium.

An estimated 14.3 million people (22% of the population) in the UK are living in poverty. People in poverty or on low incomes often pay more for the same products or services than those better off financially. This is the “Poverty Premium” – the extra costs of being poor.

There is not one ‘Poverty Premium’, but many unfair increments in cost that when added together can represent a significant drain on tight household budgets – the cost of a family holiday, furnishing a new flat, or keeping a household in clothes, shoes and adequately warm through the winter. Such increments are typically centered on a specific set of issues – in energy, through expensive tariffs; credit, because of poor credit ratings; or insurance in deprived postcodes – all typically compounded by digital exclusion. Read more about the Poverty Premium here: https://www.bristol.ac.uk/media-library/sites/geography/pfrc/pfrc1614-poverty-premium-key-findings.pdf

Fair By Design (FBD) is a movement designed to eliminate the Poverty Premium, comprised of a Campaign (managed by Barrow Cadbury Trust) and a Fund (managed by Ascension Ventures). We challenge entrepreneurs, corporates, the government, regulators and the public to innovate and develop new and better ideas to address this problem. The Fair By Design Fund is a £10m fund investing in early-stage companies that find fairer ways to serve low-income consumers, tackling Premiums in key sectors such as financial services, energy, insurance, and food/household goods.

About the Role

The role sits within the Ascension team, an early-stage venture capital firm built by exited operators to back the next generation of tech entrepreneurs. Since 2013, Ascension has invested in 75+ start-ups across 3 distinct funds, including the FBD Fund. Its specialist approach and extensive sector reach allow it to identify and scale pioneering enterprises.

The Investment Associate will source, structure and execute investments for the Fund. The role involves the full investment process cycle, from deal origination through to completion, as well as stakeholder management, including founder and investor relations, reporting to Limited Partners, and working closely with the Fair By Design Campaign.

Ascension is a small but fast-growing team and is looking for a candidate with strong analytical, organisational and interpersonal skills, with the ability to grow and adapt accordingly, with the support of the Ascension team.

Key Responsibilities

Reporting to the FBD Fund Investment Manager, Emma Steele, day-to-day duties will include:

  • Pipeline Sourcing & Management: deal-flow research, direct outreach, and ecosystem relations (e.g. attending industry events and demo days, organise VC & Angel investor meetings, build and maintain relationships with accelerators).
  • Due Diligence & Analysis: perform DD on potential investee companies, draft Investment Committee Papers, including market research and financial analysis and manage ‘lived experience’ workshops.
  • Deal Execution: manage and keep track of the execution process, produce and negotiate Term Sheets, help set company objectives and social KPIs, and manage final legal DD.
  • Reporting: produce quarterly social KPI/trading updates and bi-annual social impact report for the FBD LPs, including the collection of quarterly commercial and social KPI information from all startups in the FBD portfolio using Ascension’s social impact reporting tool.
  • Database Management and Portfolio Support: manage file repository and CRM systems, and assist with internal and portfolio events and news.

Person Specification

Qualifications & Experience

  • Qualified to at least degree level in a relevant subject, or demonstrable evidence of knowledge gained from other sources and/or experience.
  • 1-3 years of professional working experience and a keen interest in the tech start-up ecosystem and/or the social impact space.
  • Strong project management skills and excellent organisational ability.
  • Nice to have but not a must: a background in financial and/or business advisory (e.g. financial services, legal services, accounting or management consultancy).

Skills & Abilities

  • Wide-ranging knowledge of social issues in the UK, including an understanding of how government policies and the private sector affect society.
  • Organisational ability enables them to plan, strategize and implement. Able to refine processes by monitoring outcomes and analysing data.
  • Can positively influence others to achieve results that are in the best interest of Ascension.
  • Thrives in an agile, fast-paced working environment.
  • Excellent written and communication skills a must.

To Apply

To apply, complete the following form: www.bit.ly/FBDApply_InvestmentAssociate

Please note, we will only consider this form and your CV in the selection process. Side-emails or other attachments will not be considered.

We are committed to creating a diverse environment and are proud to be an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, colour, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, or age.

Vin Murria Awarded UKBAA Angel Investor of the Year and Best Woman-led Investment in Innovation

Ascension Ventures, Fair By Design, and its portfolio companies take home three wins and several nominations from the 2019 UKBAA Angel Investment Awards

  • Ascension Venture Partner, Vin Murria OBE, wins Angel Investor of the Year and Best Woman-led Investment in Innovation
  • Ascension portfolio company, Moteefe, wins Best Scale Up Team of the Year
  • Ascension’s impact fund, Fair By Design (FBD), nominated Best New Entrant to the EcoSystem
  • FBD portfolio company, Wagestream, nominated Best Investment in Disruptive Tech and Best Investment in FinTech
  • FBD portfolio company, We Are Digital, nominated Co-investment Deal of the Year, backed by ClearlySo Angels, Wayra, Si2 Fund, Triple Point & Fair By Design 

LONDON, ENGLAND – 3 July 2019 Ascension Ventures, the London-based investment firm, had an eventful evening at the annual UKBAA Angel Investment Awards. Throughout the ceremony and black-tie gala dinner, 15 awards were presented to acknowledge the UK’s standout angels, crowdfunders, early-stage VC’s, and the innovators they back. 

Ascension Venture Partner, Vin Murria OBE, was awarded Angel Investor of the Year, alongside Cambridge serial entrepreneur and funder, Sunil Shah. The award recognises the most active and impactful angel investor in backing start-up and early-stage UK businesses during the past 12 months and who has brought not only vital risk capital, but also significant added value to support the growth and success of their portfolio. She was also awarded Best Woman-led Investment in Innovation alongside Joo Hee lee for their investment in TAINA, playing a critical role in providing support to the founder, Maria Scott, with advice on hiring, growing and strategic direction and linking to further investment.

Vin’s career has included a combination of VC, PE and CEO experience, centred around 20 years of M&A in the software sector. Vin founded Advanced Computer Software in 2008, which was acquired by Vista Private Equity for £765m in 2015, and is currently a non-executive director at FTSE250 Sophos Plc and Softcat Plc, and a Senior advisor at NM Rothschilds. Vin is an active angel investor, including recent investments in TAINA, XCD, finnCap, and funds via Ascension Ventures and Elderstreet Investments.

Ascension portfolio company, Moteefe, was awarded Best Scale Up Team of the Year, going from £10k revenue a month to £3.4m a month within 3 years. The Award recognises the most active and dynamic entrepreneurial team that has shown strong leadership and teamwork in using investment to achieve successful scale-up of their innovative high growth potential business. Moteefe is a social commerce platform providing a solution for users to sell customised products through social media, and has seen significant growth across the team, build-out of multiple platforms, and notable partnerships in the past year. 

Additional nominations included Ascension’s social impact fund, Fair By Design (FBD), for Best New Entrant to the EcoSystem, FBD portfolio companies, Wagestream and We Are Digital, for Best Investment in Disruptive Tech and Best Investment in FinTech, and Co-investment Deal of the Year, respectively. Ascension’s solicitors, Harper James Solicitors, were also finalists for Best Legal Team for Early Stage Deals.

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About Ascension Ventures

Ascension Ventures backs exceptional entrepreneurs with big visions by providing capital, access to its network, and expert mentors to grow scalable businesses. Our focus is on supporting UK businesses from Seed to Series A. Venture capital in tech and digital media is constantly evolving and requires a specialist approach and extensive sector insight to identify and progress innovative enterprises. Since 2013, we have invested in 75+ early-stage tech companies. We have a rigorous investment evaluation process and are highly selective in putting forward opportunities for investment from our funds.

About Fair By Design

The biggest irony of poverty is that being poor is more expensive than being financially secure. Around 10 million people in the UK have no choice but to pay extra for essential goods and services like heating, loans and insurance. If they can’t pay, many of them will end up going without. This is the Poverty Premium, and it makes getting out of poverty almost impossible. Fair By Design (FBD) is working with businesses, regulators and politicians to end the extra costs of being poor.

Fair By Design is a movement dedicated to ending the Poverty Premium: our Campaign works with businesses, government, and regulators to design out the Poverty Premium. Our Venture Fund provides capital to help grow innovative ventures developing products that make markets fairer. 

To schedule interviews, request supporting content, or for all other inquiries, please contact: 

Alicia Burke

Marketing Manager

+44 (0) 7491 233 093

alicia@ascensionventures.com

www.ascensionventures.com

Live Game Management Platform ChilliConnect Secures $450k+ Seed Funding

Live Game Management platform ChilliConnect is excited to announce the completion of a Seed funding round of over $450,000 raised from TechStart Ventures, Ascension Ventures and existing angel investors.

The technology company was founded in 2016 as a spin out from a successful game development studio. Its flagship product, the ChilliConnect platform, is a SaaS (software as a service) tool kit that provides game developers and publishers with a single solution to a range of Live Game Management services including analytics, game backend services and live operations. This “all in one” game development and publishing service has already attracted a range of notable global clients.

Following this Seed investment round, ChilliConnect plans significant growth across the business. Dedicated sales and marketing capability has been added and the company is now seeking to double the size of its current development team. ChilliConnect’s ambition to democratise Live Game Management for all game developers regardless of shape, size and financial resource is now one step closer to reality.

CEO and Co-founder Paul Farley said “We are delighted to close this Seed round. Not only will this investment allow us to accelerate the development of the ChilliConnect platform, developing innovative live operations and game backend features, but we can now market the platform to an even larger range of potential customers. Having access to the knowledge and networks of both TechStart Ventures and Ascension Ventures is a massive benefit. We’re looking forward to working with these top drawer early-stage funds.”

Mike Herron, CTO and Co-founder added “We’ve already demonstrated we can deliver a world class service with a small team, now we have the opportunity to maximise our positioning and become one of only a handful of key players in this space. In addition to developers and publishers we fill a large hole in the technology stack of distribution platforms, engine providers and other complementary technology companies. We’re looking forward to realising this potential in the months ahead.”

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PRESS
For more information contact Paul Farley, CEO paul.farley@chilliconnect.com or 07824 614105.
Press pack available here: www.chilliconnect.com/press
Website: www.chilliconnect.com
Twitter: @Chilli_Connect

ABOUT ASCENSION VENTURES
Ascension Ventures backs exceptional entrepreneurs with big visions – providing capital, our network, and expert mentors to grow scalable technology businesses. We support UK businesses from Seed to Series A, and since 2013, Ascension has invested in over 75 UK based early-stage companies. Current funds include the ASCEND SEIS (Seed), CENTAUR EIS (Seed+), UK-India EIS (Seed+), and its Fair By Design social impact fund, working to eradicate the UK’s Poverty Premium.

ABOUT TECHSTART VENTURES LLP
Techstart Ventures LLP is a seed stage venture capital investor for the most ambitious entrepreneurial founding teams in Scotland and Northern Ireland. We seek to be trusted peers who help founders realise their vision through experienced and timely support. With our capital and backing, founders can focus on customer development, validating their business model and growing sales. Techstart manages the Scottish Growth Scheme – Techstart Ventures Equity Finance LP Fund which has been part financed by support from the European Structural Funds 2014-2020 European Regional Development Fund Programme in Scotland.

Tick. Investment – done.

Tick epitomises what we love to invest in at Ascension – an online video platform with an enormous market opportunity, but also genuinely trying to change content creation and consumption behaviours online, for the better. Its platform enables people with knowledge, skills and talent to create video content that delivers positive messaging and skills building for the masses.

We have been extremely impressed with what Franz, Jess and Cedric have built to date and cannot wait to see how Tick will enhance human potential at a huge scale through online video.

Read the full article here (Seedcamp)

Estate Agency Comparison Site GetAgent Raises £2.2 Million from Latest Investment Round

Estate agent comparison website GetAgent has closed a new funding round and has raised £2.2 million from several investors including the backer of Spotahome.com, TV channel Channel 4 and the founder of a leading photo printing platform.

Read the full article here (The Negotiator)

Vochlea Music Launches Crowdfunding Campaign for “Dubler Studio Kit”

Vochlea Music, a U.K. startup and alumni of Abbey Road Red, the music tech incubator from Abbey Road Studios, is launching a crowdfunding campaign today for “Dubler Studio Kit,” a new device and app that turns your voice into a MIDI controller for synths, drum machines, DAWs and other music gear.

Read the full article here (TechCrunch)

Groundbreaking Augmented Reality Fashion Show Streamed To Global Audience

In a world of technology providing new experiences that elevate the goings-on in our physical world, adding a layer of ‘virtuality’ is bringing a new spin to fashion week. Leading this charge is London College of Fashion’s Innovation Agency, FIA, who partnered with augmented reality pioneers HoloMe to present selected collections of London College of Fashion MA graduates.

Read the full article here (Forbes)

Cooperative Innovations Closes £500K Seed Funding, Launches VR Animation Tech ‘Ikabod’

British virtual reality (VR) developer Cooperative Innovations – the team behind Raiders of Erda – has announced the closure of a seed funding round, securing the company £500K of investment. Alongside, the funding, the studio has released a proprietary VR animation technology, Ikabod. The investment came from a number of sources, including angel investor Craig Fletcher, Ascension Ventures and Trend Investment Group.

Read the full article here (VR Focus)

Leading British Reuse Marketplace, Globechain, Featured as a Startup to Watch in 2019 by Forbes

Waste is increasingly expensive and companies are looking for infallible CSR wins – Globechain gives them both. Beyond this, the circular economy is valued at around $5.2 trillion by 2030 per Accenture, which means Globechain is hitting just at the right time economically (especially for the UK).

Read the full article here (Forbes)

From Unicorn To Phoenix, What Makes This Entrepreneur Tick The Second Time Around?

Tick co-founder, Jess Butcher, talks to Forbes about co-founding Blippar (the AR pioneers that recently went into administration), motherhood and family life, dabbling in a portfolio of mentoring, angel investing, non-exec-ing, and public speaking, and now co-founding a new social video platform, Tick.

Read the full article here (Forbes)

eCommerce Returns Solution, ZigZag Global, Receives Multi-Million GBP Growth Funding

Circularity Capital, a specialist private equity firm supporting growth stage European SMEs in the circular economy, has led a multi-million growth funding round in ZigZag Global, a software solution for retailers to optimally manage the return, repacking and resale of products. The investment will further accelerate the rollout of the solution to international blue chip retailers.

Read the full article here (Private Equity Wire)

Payday Poverty And Financial Fitbits: How Wagestream Is Eradicating Post-Christmas Number Crunching

Wagestream, the financial wellbeing fintech startup, has revealed that Christmas debt cripples 50 percent of the British population. This coincided with research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) which identified that the number of working Brits in poverty is outpacing employment.

In conversation with Peter Briffett, CEO and co-founder at Wagestream, he explained that the platform they are offering does so much more for financial wellness than those fintech firms who offer budget plans and spend trackers.

Read the full article here (Forbes)

Albert Acquired by Santander

Santander Group has today announced the acquisition of Albert, the invoicing and expenses app for freelancers and micro-businesses, as part of its mission to support the UK’s 5.7 million small business owners. Albert has developed a loyal following amongst freelancers and micro enterprises, providing smart invoicing and expense tools that reduce the time their self- employed customers spend on financial admin.

Read the full article here (Santander)

Ascension Ventures Announces 14 New Investors

Active tech investors and leading entrepreneurs invest in Ascension, joining as Venture Partners to expand deal-flow and support portfolio companies

  • Ascension announces 14 new investors, who will join the firm as Venture Partners to identify, back and scale UK tech businesses
  • New Venture Partners are active investors and include prolific tech entrepreneur Vin Murria, Telefonica’s accelerator, Wayra UK, and the Founders of Expedia, Multiplay and CSC Media
  • This solidifies experience and credentials across multiple tech sectors like Digital Media and Fintech, as well as providing access to New York and Silicon Valley for its portfolio businesses

LONDON, ENGLAND – 28 November 2018 – Ascension Ventures, the London-based investment firm, today announced a funding round, which will see the addition of 14 new Venture Partners. The group strengthens Ascension’s core belief in entrepreneurs investing in entrepreneurs, bringing in active UK and US investors with a number of them already successfully-exited entrepreneurs. Ascension’s bolstered experience in early stage investments and deep sector knowledge will increase deal-flow and support portfolio companies as they develop and scale in the UK and beyond.

Since 2013, Ascension has invested in more than 75 early stage tech companies across the UK, including VidsyMoteefeWagestreamA Million Ads and Hazy, which have gone on to raise multimillion pound rounds since Ascension invested in their initial seed rounds. The firm continues to attract exceptional entrepreneurs seeking early stage investment (ranging between £250K-£1.5m) and private capital, angels and other early stage VCs seeking co-invest partners. Ascension raises annual SEIS & EIS Funds, in addition to bidding for larger institutional funds. In the last year, Ascension also launched a series of initiatives including the Fair by Design Fund, a new £10m Fund tackling poverty in the UK, and the Unicorn Ascension Fund, the first UK/India cross-border EIS scale-up fund.

Serial entrepreneur, Vin Murria OBE, who set up Advanced Computer Software in 2008 and sold the business for £765 million in 2015 commented, “I’ve been very impressed with the Ascension Team and their track record of investments in UK tech start-ups. I’m delighted to be joining as a Venture Partner and look forward to building Ascension’s brand as the best place for early stage investing.”

Gary Stewart, Managing Director of Wayra UK, said, “Ascension has always been a committed and consistent partner of Wayra. Indeed, they’ve invested in 16 of our start-ups, are investors in residence in our London hub and are our principal partner in the Fair By Design programme. That being said, we expect that the best is still yet to come.”

Erik Blachford commented, “Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a proliferation of strong UK tech businesses. I felt that working with Ascension was a great opportunity to access the UK’s best early stage tech deal-flow, and I look forward to supporting these portfolio companies as they scale up and enter the US market.” Erik was CEO of Expedia when it sold to IAC and currently lives in San Francisco, where he is a Venture Partner at TCV, an active angel investor, and a Board Director at Zillow Group, Peloton, SiteMinder, TourRadar, Varsity Tutors, Liftopia, Busbud, and the Cutting Ball Theater.

Aleks Habdank commented, “I have been working in the Media industry for over 20 years now, including senior roles at Liberty Global, Virgin Media, YouView, Modern Times Group and, most recently, Talk Talk. I have seen the proliferation of digital as the key distribution driver for content, and believe the future lies in pure digital content consumption. As Ascension invests in the digital media end of technology, it was the logical place for me to invest in and join as a Venture Partner so that I can support the early stage innovators it is investing in.”

Exited entrepreneur and angel investor, Craig Fletcher, said, “I have been investing in Ascension’s SEIS & EIS Funds for a number of years now and have been heavily involved with supporting the portfolio companies as they have scaled. Therefore, it made sense to invest in Ascension and join as a Venture Partner in order to continue helping grow both Ascension’s position in the ecosystem as well as the portfolio companies it invests in, particularly in the mobile gaming and eSports sector.”

CEO of Ascension Ventures, Jean de Fougerolles, commented, “I’m delighted we’ve pulled together such a strong group of Venture Partners, all with deep operational experience in scaling and exiting tech businesses. Early stage investing requires specialist sector knowledge, not only to pick the right companies, but also to provide the necessary support to guide them through the early years. My vision has always been to build Ascension as the top seed VC brand in the UK, a place where seasoned tech operators can back the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovative business models. The addition of these new Venture Partners brings Ascension closer to this objective.”

Along with the 14 new Venture Partners, Kip Meek will be joining as Ascension’s new Chairman. Kip is the Founder of the Communications Chambers and Director of the Wireless Infrastructure Group; he was previously a Senior Advisor to EE and BT, Chairman of the Radiocentre, a Board member of Ofcom and the Founder of Spectrum Strategy Consultants.

The other Venture Partners included in today’s announcement are Pharus Advisors, Emma Blackburn, Antonin de Fougerolles, Jami Jenkins, Ian McClelland, Sam Miller, Remy Minute, Diane Stewart and Barney Worfolk-Smith.

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Ascension Ventures backs exceptional entrepreneurs with big visions by providing capital, access to its network, and expert mentors to grow scalable businesses. Our focus is on supporting UK businesses from Seed to Series A. Venture capital in tech and digital media is constantly evolving and requires a specialist approach and extensive sector insight to identify and progress innovative enterprises. Since 2013, we have invested in over 75 early stage tech companies. We have a rigorous investment evaluation process and are highly selective in putting forward opportunities for investment from our funds.

To schedule interviews, request supporting content, or for all other inquiries, please contact:

Alicia Burke

Marketing Manager, Ascension Ventures

alicia@ascensionventures.com

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