Finance Birmingham tie up to boost company growth

Expert fund adds to city’s offer for tech firms.

Finance Birmingham has entered a joint venture with Ascension Ventures, a fund focused on providing equity investments to early-stage digital media and tech business across the UK.

Ascension will advise on deals for Finance Birmingham, which manages Birmingham City Council’s £5 million Creative Fund. The fund is designed to support tech and creative businesses’ growth and create jobs. The deal will also allow local businesses supported by the fund to access expert advice from industry leaders.

Ascension Ventures is run by Jean de Fougerolles, a tech entrepreneur and digital media pioneer. Ascension is supported by a large network of industry leading mentors including Peter Cowley, ex MD of Endemol Digital; Howard Litton, ex MD Nickelodeon; PJ Sebert, ex MD Eurosport; Jeff Jones, ex MD Disney Games; Jon Gisby, ex MD Yahoo UK and Mark Wood, ex CEO Future Publishing.

Ascension will co-locate with Finance Birmingham at its offices in Baskerville House. Sue Summers, Chief Executive of Finance Birmingham, commented: “Birmingham’s reputation as a hub for tech businesses is growing and through our new deal with Ascension and the support of their exceptional list of mentors, we will help to attract, fund and nurture the best tech entrepreneurs from across the UK.

“As a team we already focus on supporting the businesses we invest in, helping them in practical ways to achieve their ambitions. With Ascension’s expert advisers on board, we are confident of helping even more high growth business from across the UK.”

John Handley, Investment Director at Finance Birmingham, will join Ascension as Chairman, building on Finance Birmingham’s commitment to provide advice and guidance, as well as funds to the businesses it supports.

With demand for growth finance high across the UK, Finance Birmingham and Ascension are already planning a new growth fund to help tech businesses scale up their operations. Ascension Ventures CEO Jean de Fougerolles added: “I have been co-investing in innovative tech start-ups with Finance Birmingham over the past few years and am excited about the prospects for our joint venture. I look forward to working with John and the team to help innovative tech businesses thrive.”

The news builds on the city’s offer for tech businesses following the success of the recent #TechBrum campaign. Led by the city’s inward investment programme, Business Birmingham, the campaign promoted Birmingham as an ideal base for expanding tech companies. Neil Rami, head of Business Birmingham, said: “Birmingham’s reputation as a hub for expanding tech businesses is growing. The city’s offer – from the funds and expert advice available, to the supportive community of digital businesses that has emerged – is hugely attractive to those looking to start and expand their operations. Finance Birmingham’s deal with Ascension adds yet more to the mix and opens up an incredible amount of expertise through their mentors, which can only boost local businesses.”

Greater Birmingham’s digital sector adds £2 billion in gross added value to the local economy. There are 6,000 digital media companies in the area with more than 40,000 people directly employed in the digital media sector.