Par Equity, the Edinburgh-based investment manager that specialises in early-stage technology businesses with high growth potential, increased its new investment activity to a record £12.4m in 2020.

Despite the challenges of a year dominated by Covid-19, the company also continued its run of successful exits, which means it has now returned cash to investors every year since 2013.

The year closed with Par having completed 35 investment transactions in 12 months, up from a previous high in 2019.

Additions to the portfolio included the likes of SICCAR, an IT technology company that enables organisations to securely exchange information, for instance in a healthcare setting, and Integrated Graphene, an advanced materials business which has developed and patented a way to mass manufacture 3D graphene at low cost. 

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The year also included the announcement of a £75m investment partnership with British Business Investments (BBI), which saw Par becoming part of the Regional Angel Programme and making its first investment in EC-OG, a specialist in subsea clean energy, located in Aberdeen.

The BBI deal complements Par’s longstanding relationship with the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB) for whom it is one of the largest and most active co-investors.

These investments bring the total number of companies backed by Par Equity to over 60, with more than 20 now exited.

Among the exits in the last twelve months was Symphonic, originally a spin-out from Edinburgh Napier University. The software company, which enables organisations to control access to confidential information, was sold to a US market leader in internet security, Ping Identity. The sale achieved a blended 8.3x return across two rounds of investment for the Par EIS Fund. 

Another exit, DeltaDNA, which originally took place in 2019, has continued to deliver value to investors in the form of paper stock in the acquirer, NYSE listed Unity Technologies. The sale of Delta DNA, which helps computer gaming developers analyse and personalise the experiences of players in real time, is currently sitting on a 17.2x return for Par investors.

With these very encouraging exits, Par is increasing its profile and reputation across the UK as one of the “go to” VCs, particularly for tech companies in the North of the UK.  At the end of 2020, Par was recognised as a one of the top Growth Investors in the UK at the Growth Investor Awards in London and scooped the runner-up prize for the best EIS Fund Manager of the Year category at the EIS Association awards, also in London.

Andrew Noble, partner at Par Equity, said: “Another record year of investment activity means that investors are continuing to put their faith in us as a manager, and young tech companies are getting the much-needed capital to grow their companies. This is clearly good news, but what’s more important is that the companies we back are growing fast, hiring top talent, and eventually securing a successful return for all shareholders. In that regard, 2020 has been a huge success as we approach £100m of realisations for our investors.”

Paul Munn, managing partner at Par Equity said: “Par Equity is absolutely focused on finding and supporting the best new technology companies in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north of England. In 2020 we strengthened our business model adding new hires and launching new initiatives such as our head-hunter panel, university partnerships and our regional investor network programmes. In doing so we have set a strong foundation for growth in 2021.” 

HeraldScotland: Richard Muir, deputy chief executive, Glasgow Chamber of CommerceRichard Muir, deputy chief executive, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce

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As usual during the holiday season I finally managed to read a couple of books and catch up on programmes I had been meaning to watch for a while including a great documentary directed and starring Michael Caine on the Swinging Sixties and the fallout in the early Seventies.

READ MORE: Caine finished with the line ‘Don’t look back in anger, look forward in hope’ and that might well be prescient for these times too.

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