VENTURE capital investment in Scotland’s "scale-up", or fast-growth, businesses slowed this year following record levels in 2020.

The latest figures from the KPMG Venture Pulse Survey showed there were 21 deals in Scotland between January and March this year, down from 23 in the last quarter of last year.

The combined value of investment was also down from £97.6 million to £64.3m.

KPMG said the data will come as a blow to the entrepreneurial scale-up sector, which was said to have bucked the wider economic downward trend last year, with record levels of investment and deals in Scotland.

However, with restrictions easing and the Scottish economy gradually re-opening it is hoped a return to high confidence levels from investors "should see a return to the upward trend in the country’s increasingly important start-up and scale-up space”.

READ MORE: Record Scottish tech funding for remote home healthcare system

The lion’s share of deals this quarter were in Glasgow where the count was seven, followed by Edinburgh’s five and three in Aberdeen.

Amy Burnett, of KPMG Private Enterprise in Scotland, said: “The figures for Q1 are relatively subdued and disappointing, but it’s clear investors still have an appetite for Scottish scale-ups.

"To some extent, we bucked the global trend towards the end of 2020, with significant deal volume and value, and we’re now seeing that steady off and balance itself out."

It was a different story across the UK in the first quarter, with a record £5.1 billion of VC investment directed into fast-growth UK businesses over the last three months, up 25 per cent on the £3.9bn raised in quarter four in 2020.

A total of £15.1bn was raised across Europe.