A dozen start-ups selected for Praetura Ventures’ new North of England investment programme

24th June 2024, 2:32 pm

North West-based venture capital firm Praetura Ventures has shortlisted 12 companies to take part in its PraeSeed programme, a new initiative designed to identify the most promising start-ups in the North of England and support them with equity funding.

Announced in March, the programme (pronounced ‘pre-seed’) received over 200 applications from start-ups in a wide range of sectors, including AI, healthcare, hospitality, leisure, manufacturing, robotics and SaaS.

The 12 shortlisted businesses will attend a series of workshops delivered by later stage founders and experts in their field. Among the 15 speakers scheduled for the sessions are Rich Potter, CEO at Peak AI, adviser Sophie Conaghan from Finance for Founders and ecosystem leader Liz Scott from Turin Innovation Catalyst. The sessions will focus on helping the founders across Praetura’s ‘6Ms’ model, helping them develop their future plans, fundraising roadmap, financial model and go to market strategy, alongside specialist sessions in marketing, leadership, sales and HR.

Praetura’s fund managers will use the six weeks of workshops as part of the due diligence process, helping to determine which businesses will get investment. Praetura plans to make equity investments of £200k in up to eight of the twelve cohort businesses later in the year. The cohort will also be introduced to Praetura’s co-investment network at a showcase date to be held in September in Manchester.

The dozen companies in the cohort are: Antonym, Aquaint, Bidscript, CCI Photonics, Gaia Learning, Fireflai, North AI, Praxium, Pupil Pathways, Scrubmarine, Robitiz3d and WAC.

PraeSeed is the latest project launched by Praetura to help support early-stage businesses with the funding they need to grow, whilst also providing them with additional support in the form of an ‘scale up’ education programme.

The programme is being led by Jess Jackson – an investment manager with a long track record for funding seed stage businesses whilst also campaigning for greater diversity in the investment sector.

Jess Jackson, investment manager at Praetura Ventures, said: “I’ve been so energised by the response to PraeSeed. This is our first time running the process, and we’ve been overwhelmed by both the quality of the applications and the reaction from the ecosystem.

“The UK won’t be able to fuel its future scale up success stories without early-stage risk capital. Celebrating and supporting businesses at seed stage is an essential part of the puzzle – we want to help these companies to the next stage so they can make a real impact on the region. The whole Praetura team is so impressed with the energy in the North right now.

“We’ve got a real mix of companies, from robots solving potholes problems in our road infrastructure to educating children with neurodiverse needs, and from cost and sustainability savings in marine cleaning to improving radiologists’ performance in low income countries. I can’t wait to get started.”

Simon Mellin, founder of Modern Milkman, will be running a session for the PraeSeed cohort on his journey to becoming one of the region’s fastest growing tech businesses. Simon said: “There’s something special about growing a business in the North of England. Everyone is behind you and wants you to succeed. Scaling Modern Milkman over the last few years has taught us a lot, and I believe we can support others to grow more effectively by sharing these learnings.

“It’s great to see a programme that combines both capital and advice at such an early stage. When you’re trying to grow quickly, it’s really easy to make bad decisions so I think having a network to support and share ideas and challenges with will be really powerful. I’m really looking forward to my workshop and meeting the first cohort.”

The PraeSeed programme will run for five years in total and invest over £6m into 35 start-up businesses. It will re-open for applications in early 2025.

The launch of the PraeSeed scheme comes after Praetura Ventures was named as the manager for Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund II’s equity investments of up to £5m in the North West.

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