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Regional UK economy boosted as record number of businesses backed outside of London by private capital during the Pandemic

Publish Date 16 Sep 2021
Categories Research

Top lines:
  • New figures show that a record 66% of businesses (863) backed by BVCA members in 2020 were outside of London, with the amount invested into these businesses representing well over half of total funding into the UK.

  • More than £5.3bn worth of investment went into regional economies outside of London, including £1.16bn into companies in the North West, £863m into the Midlands and £480m into Yorkshire and the North East.

  • In total, more than 5,000 UK businesses are now supported by BVCA members and 1,300 of these received private equity and venture capital backing in 2020. Almost 90% of these were small or medium sized - employing fewer than 250 people.

  • These new figures – and many more – are taken from ‘Investing with Integrity’, the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association’s (BVCA) flagship report. Published today, the report tells the story of private capital in 2020, using investment data gathered from across its membership. Read it HERE.

Press release:

Private capital inflows into regional economies eclipsed inflows into the London economy during the Pandemic during 2020, with more than £5.3bn of investment supporting businesses outside of the UK capital, a new report highlights.

“Investing with Integrity”, published by the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA), also found that a record 66% of businesses backed by its members in 2020 were outside of London, representing well over half of the £9.5bn in investment made in the UK.

This included £1.2bn into firms in England’s North West, £863m into the Midlands and £480m into Yorkshire and the North East. Scotland and Northern Ireland also received strong support with £213m and £141m’s worth of investment respectively.

The report, which uses data gathered from across the BVCA’s membership of private equity and venture capital firms, is the largest primary research survey of its kind in the UK and details how the industry backed UK businesses throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

The BVCA’s data goes on to show that more than 5,000 British companies – responsible for over 1 million jobs – are now supported by its members, with 1,300 of these receiving financial backing during 2020 to enable them to grow, invest and come through the pandemic as strong as possible. Close to 90% of the 1,300 firms that benefitted from both funding and the hands-on management approach that comes with private equity and venture capital were small or medium sized.


Michael Moore, BVCA Director General, said:

“The scale and breadth of private capital’s investment and support for UK businesses during the pandemic has been significant. Whether it’s investing in Vital Energi in Blackburn, Nova Pangaea in Redcar or Bluesona in Downpatrick, private capital is actively helping companies grow and prosper as the economy recovers from the COVID crisis. This means new jobs being created, new products coming to market, new ideas being commercialised - all at a time when the UK economy needs it most.”

Regarding sector-specific investment, technology was the primary focus in 2020. BVCA members invested £3.4bn into 557 companies – with 60% of these being start-ups, or fledgling businesses yet to experience rapid growth. While London remains the cornerstone of the UK scene, attracting 55% of total investment, the balance was spread across the UK with particular tech hubs developing in both the North West and Yorkshire and the North East – 7% and 14% of UK tech businesses attracting funding were located in these regions.

Business in the healthcare, life sciences and biotech sectors were also high priority investment targets for BVCA members in 2020. There’s a clear correlation between private capital support for fledgling businesses ‘spun out’ of universities in these sectors, with 20% of healthcare business investments going to South East England (home of Oxford University) and 14% into the East of England (home to Cambridge University).

Finally, there’s also comprehensive data on the UK’s attractiveness as a place to raise funds throughout the pandemic, with £44.1bn incoming in 2020 – only a slight dip from the £47.6bn raised in 2019. The willingness of investment funds to flow into the country cements the UK’s position as the second largest centre for private equity and venture capital outside of the US and its competitiveness on the global scene.

Notes to editors
  1. The British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (BVCA) is the industry body for the UK private equity and venture capital industry. The BVCA has over 750 member firms, including more than 450 fund managers and institutional investors, representing the majority of UK-based private equity and venture capital firms and their advisers.

  2. Further information on the data and methodology used in the report can be found on page 18, and the BVCA has published a detailed chartbook to accompany Investing with Integrity – available here. An excel data pack featuring the data used in the chartbook is also available for download here.

  3. For more information on any of the above, please contact External Communications Manager, Will English, on wenglish@bvca.co.uk