YFM Equity Partners (YFM) is this marking the 25th anniversary of the launch of its first Venture Capital Trust (VCT).
After listing British Smaller Companies VCT in April 1996 at a value of £4 million, the Leeds-based PE firm went on to later launch British Smaller Companies VCT2, with the two trusts today worth £185 million and investing into early-stage businesses across the UK.
The trusts were initially limited to investments of less than £1 million, over the years that has increased, but, today, for many businesses, it is still limited to no more than £5 million in a year.
However, VCTs have played a vital role in bridging the funding gap for the UK’s most innovative, young businesses. It is estimated that since their launch in September 1995, VCTs have generated, in total, over £1.4 billion of exports and created more than 27,000 jobs, across a myriad of sectors.
“Over the last 25 years, we have seen huge changes. When we made our first VCT investment into Clitheroe-based Fresh Roast Coffee in 1996, the internet didn’t exist, Amazon was a small start-up business, and it was eight years before Facebook was launched,” said YFM MD David Hall.
“One of our early investments made in 1998 was GO Outdoors, which at the time had one store in Hathersage. Over the next 18 years, turnover grew from £2m to over £200m with employee numbers rising from 33 to more than 2,000.
“The type of businesses we have supported through our VCTs has evolved over time, with more traditional engineering businesses benefitting in the early 2000s, through to the emergence of rapidly growing, knowledge-intensive technology companies today.
“Having adapted to reflect changing needs, VCTs have grown and developed, enabling us to take a longer-term view and to back pioneering technologies which are vital to the future of the economy.
“As the only Yorkshire-headquartered VCT business, we believe that the trusts have a significant role to play in helping the government to achieve its intention of addressing inequality and ‘levelling up’ the North and the South.”