VC giant Octopus Ventures raises £120m as it looks to invest in AI start-ups

The Holborn-based VC firm has previously backed the likes of Swiftkey, LoveFilm, Secret Escapes and YPlan

Venture capital (VC) firm Octopus Ventures has raised £120m as it looks to invest in more AI-focused UK start-ups.

The Holborn-based VC firm, which normally backs businesses with seed, Series A and Series B funding rounds of between £150,000 and £5m, is already in discussions with two unamnamed UK tech start-ups.

A subsidiary of Octopus Investments, which was established in 1999, its portfolio includes Swiftkey, who were later acquired by Microsoft, Startups-100-ranked YPlan, LoveFilm and Secret Escapes.

The announcement comes after a report by Accenture estimated that AI could add up to £654bn to the UK economy by 2035.

Alex Macpherson, chief executive at Octopus Ventures, said:

“We have expertise in the machine-learning field, but the challenge today is pretty much every business that comes through to us is machine learning or artificial intelligence.

“Our whole concept is how can we help support British entrepreneurs to take their business the whole way, and not sell out to the Americans or others a bit too early.”

Speaking on the type of businesses they normally invest in, Will Gibbs, investment manager at Octopus, told Startups:

“Our ideal investment is one where we are aligned with the entrepreneur and we are both ready to accelerate quickly. The business should operate with a strong and ambitious team at the helm, able to deliver successive growth in a global market.

“The product or service that business delivers should also have strong USPs and not be easily copied to prevent saturation of the market.”

Want to find out more about Octopus Ventures? Read our interview with Octopus’ Will Gibbs here.

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