£37.5m fund for UK tech entrepreneurs launched

Government-backed Episode 1 fund supported by consortium of leading UK investors and entrepreneurs

New venture capital firm Episode 1 today announced the launch of a £37.5m fund, designed to support enterprise in the UK’s burgeoning tech sector.

Backed by a mixture of public and private investment, the fund aims to support 20 to 30 early-stage tech companies based in the UK who can demonstrate a viable business proposition and potential for growth.

Alongside £25m of public money, the fund comprises £14.5m investment from experienced private sector backers including the fund’s managing partners Simon Murdoch, Damien Lane and Adrian Lloyd.

The three are veteran investors of the UK tech sector, having identified and backed successful digital companies such as Betfair, Lovefilm, Shazam, Shutl and Zoopla over the last 10 years.

Episode 1 will also be supported by a consortium of experienced tech entrepreneurs including Tom Allason, founder of Startups 100 winner Shutl, Alex Chesterman, founder of Innovative Business of the Year 2008 Zoopla, and Nick Austin and Alan Bennie, co-founders of the Vivid Toy Group.

Episode 1’s launch marks the Government’s 14th fund in its Enterprise Capital programme, a scheme designed to support fund managers who back small, high-growth businesses.

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, said: “We are determined to give entrepreneurs the financial support they need to grow.

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“This new £37.5 million Enterprise Capital Fund will target a serious gap in the equity market for high growth small firms.”

Alex Chesterman, chief executive of Zoopla Property Group, said: “As a serial entrepreneur and active angel investor I am keen to support other UK entrepreneurs in building future globally-successful technology businesses.

“Simon [Murdoch] was an early investor in both Zoopla and my previous venture, Lovefilm, and I know that he and the whole Episode 1 team can add a lot of value to help the next generation of start-ups fulfil their potential.”