BGF named most active investor in women-led scale-ups by ScaleUp Institute 

BGF's first Scottish deal of 2022 was an investment of £8m in the accessories brand Strathberry, which was co-founded by Leeanne Hundleby (pictured)

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 BGF, the UK & Ireland’s most active growth capital investor, has been named the most active institutional investor in women-led businesses for the second year running. 

The accolade comes following the launch of the ScaleUp Institute’s annual Female Founders Index which shines a light on ‘visible’ scaleups in the UK which have at least one
female founder. 

Analysis by the ScaleUp Institute has shown a total of 261 visible female founded scaleups in the UK in 2021, with a total turnover of £14 billion (up 41% on the previous year) and total employment of 64,995. A total of £5 billion has been invested in those companies appearing on the index.  

In 2021, BGF led investments across a diverse range of sectors with a female founder at the helm, including technology, clean growth, life sciences and e-commerce. 

Notable deals included leading a £70 million Series C round into Elvie, the revolutionary global health and lifestyle brand developing iconic products for women. Founded by CEO Tania Boler, Elvie also appeared in top ten of the Female Founders Index for the amount of equity finance it has raised in the last 12 months.  

Other investments led by BGF over the last 12 months include a £2.5 million investment into sustainable female underwear brand, Stripe & Stare, founded by Katie Lopes and Nicola Piercy; a £2 million investment in energy efficient semiconductor company Cambridge GaN Devices, founded by Georgia Longobardi; and a £3 million investment in biotechnology platform Phico Therapeutics, founded by Dr Heather Fairhead. 

In 2021, BGF made 12 investments in businesses with one or more female founder, an increase of 33% on the previous year. Total capital invested into women-led businesses during this time totals £110 million. Since 2011, BGF has invested £364 million in women-led businesses and provided £60 million of follow-on funding.  

Gemma Hamilton, investor at BGF, commented: “BGF continues to be supportive of increasing capital investment to women in business, so it’s great to see that commitment borne out in the statistics within the latest index.”  

“Our first Scottish deal of 2022 was a great example, when we invested £8m in the accessories brand Strathberry, which was co-founded by Leeanne Hundleby and has ambitious plans for international growth.  

“It’s really encouraging to see the increase in female led businesses across Scotland, which suggests there will be many more opportunities ahead for the investment industry to back female founders and their teams. We have more potential deals with female founders at fairly advanced stages in the pipeline, so I hope the next year will be similarly successful for BGF on this front.” 

BGF’s top ranking on the Female Founders Index follows last year’s announcement that Coutts, the Private Banking arm of NatWest, together with BGF, launched The UK Enterprise Fund to bring additional funding and support to entrepreneurs across the UK. The fund was set up to identify and address equity gaps across the whole of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, with specific initiatives and programmes for female-led businesses.” 

Cate Poulson, head of BGF Talent Network and a member of the board of ScaleUp Institute, added: “We are delighted to maintain our position as the leading institutional investor into women-led scaleup businesses, significantly increasing both the number of companies we’ve backed, and the total amount of capital invested.  

“We have worked hard to make BGF welcoming and supportive to the widest and most diverse range of entrepreneurs; and increased our involvement with partners working with businesses coming through earlier investment rounds to boost the number of women led businesses in our pipeline.” 

The 2022 Female Founders Index identified similar barriers to growth to their scaleup peers. Challenges around Access to Markets and Access to Talent are ranked significantly higher than other factors. Meanwhile, Access to Finance replaced Access to Infrastructure as the third greatest barrier in this year’s report. 

BGF’s involvement with the UKEF alongside initiatives such as IWC, DiversityVC and UKBAA’s Women in Angel Investing Taskforce underlines our commitment to continuously evolving and improving our EDI practices, enabling us to attract and retain diverse talent within our own business, and crucially to ensure we continue to form successful partnerships with incredible scaleup leaders.” 

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