Entrepreneur First
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Can Entrepreneur First crack the scale-up problem with new £40m fund?

Starting new companies, it’s now widely agreed, is no longer the biggest business problem the UK needs to fix.

The tech industry has heeded former Chancellor George Osborne’s “march of the makers” rhetoric from his 2011 budget, bought ex-PM David Cameron’s many assertions that Britain is “open for business”.

The need to scale up, rather than startup, is now a key concern for entrepreneurs everywhere.

Recent research from Barclays, with the business schools at Oxford and Cambridge, was just the latest report to suggest young businesses now need the right skills and better funding opportunities in order to survive.

Entrepreneur First (EF) is now set to tackle this challenge, with the announcement that it’s raised a “landmark” £40 million Enterprise Capital Fund to help grow the businesses that it helps to create.

EF has been supporting talented, techie individuals to conceive and create new companies since 2011, and has launched more than 100 new businesses. Most notably, that includes video-focused, London-based AI outfit Magic Pony, which sold to Twitter in June for $150 million.

This new fund, which includes £26 million from the government’s British Business Bank, will provide a £70,000 loan note to each company presenting at EF’s Demo Day, plus follow-on cash for Seed and Series A rounds.

The first cohort to benefit will be those presenting to investors in London today, which includes insurance tech and automated traffic surveillance startups, followed by a further four groups graduating up to September 2018.

“When we started Entrepreneur First, we broke the mould when it came to creating defensible technology startups,” says Matt Clifford, CEO of Entrepreneur First, which he founded with Alice Bentinck.

“We’re proud to say that we are no ordinary fund: we build the companies we invest in. The new fund, supported by the British Business Bank’s ECF programme, will take this on a stage further helping us to continue recruiting world-class technologists at volume to turning them into world-class startups.”

Clifford said he believes this is the “biggest accelerator fund ever raised in the UK”.

Imperial College London and Freston Ventures are new contributors to EF via the Enterprise Capital Fund, joined by existing supporter Isomer Capita. Any new investments will also be made alongside traditional VC firms.

The EF6 class is graduating today, with individual team members drawn from the likes of Google, Goldman Sachs and Aviva to form:

  • Accurx – Working to eliminate inappropriate antibiotic use by building a supervised, linked, person-level dataset, to provide an empirical diagnoses free from human biases.
  • Bloomsbury AI – Building a platform to enable everybody to program. It provides web services that enable everyone to rapidly create, train, use and share models online.
  • Brolly – Brolly’s mission is to re-define how customers experience insurance. Brolly is a mobile app that brings all insurance into one place, across understanding, buying and managing.
  • Calipsa – Calipsa’s mission is to automate traffic video surveillance using Artificial Intelligence.
  • Crypto Quantique– Working to develop a hardware based cybersecurity solution that simplifies, improves, and reduces cost of performing authentication and encryption in a (wired) local network. Our appliances benefit from cutting edge secure quantum communication technology, and can be integrated into current existing infrastructure.
  • Cyra – Aiming to make the hiring process simpler and cost effective for the employers of small to medium businesses, by providing an inexpensive, easy to use and smart Artificial Intelligence based recruiting assistant.
  • Eblur – The company’s mission is to bring about a revolution in the highly competitive and popular eSports game genre, by providing access to an online AI coaching companion
  • Flexciton – The company’s mission is to revolutionise industrial automation in the process systems and energy sector.
  • Intelligent Robots – Its mission is to democratise the use of mobile robots for industrial applications, by developing robots equipped with cheap sensors and controlled by cutting-edge deep learning algorithms.
  • Keypla – Its aim is to build a 360° view of all for-sale properties in UK, to reduce the cost of house viewings. With advances in hardware, the cost of 360° tours can be reduced by 90%.
  • Kheiron – Kheiron is developing and building tools to help radiologists with their various everyday professional workflows
  • Loop Perfect – LoopPerfect’s mission is to streamline the development of C++ code, by using a just-in-time compiler, which allows the user to update their program logic without closing the running application.
  • Neurofenix – Aiming to make rehabilitation more autonomous, enjoyable and accessible to stroke victims
  • Petagene – The company’s mission is to make genomics data cheaper, faster and better. The cost of storing and transferring genomic data is rapidly outstripping sequencing costs.
  • Quotable – The company aims to drastically simplify the purchasing of bespoke goods and services, by providing a cheap, cloud-based solution that automates most of the quotations process and pro-actively provides market insights to both buyers and suppliers.
  • Neo AI – Neo AI develops a technology that makes using machine learning cheaper and faster, enabling new applications around different industries and making complex computations available to more customers.
  • Drafter– is an inbox assistant for sales people. It suggests responses to messages based on how you’ve responded to similar messages in the past.
  • Sanctum Technologies – Working to eliminate the sound of planes for households and companies near airports, by providing a 360% aviation noise cancelling device.
  • Suits Me – The mission is to develop the most personalised lifestyle assistant in the world; starting with fashion. The immediate problem SuitsMe is solving is to bridge offline with online shopping in terms of customer experience, by making it equally comfortable.
  • Alpha I – The company’s mission is to bring research into the heart of quantitative investing, by applying advanced multivariate Bayesian models together with cutting edge computing platforms.
  • Xihelm – Working to ensure that street surveying for utilities are more reliable, cheaper and faster than before, by visualising current and own augmented data from multiple sources, showing where likely assets are, in a user friendly format.