Seven firms with equity backing in final of UK awards
Seven Northern Ireland firms - from fake tan brand Vita Liberata to defibrillator maker Heartsine - are through to the national final of awards celebrating equity-backed companies.
Vita Liberata, which is based in Ballyclare and backed by Ireland's Broadlake Capital, was a regional winner in the category of international impact management team of the year.
Heartsine, based in Belfast and supported by ACT Venture Capital and Enterprise Equity, won the mid-market private equity-backed management team of the year.
Along with five others, they are finalists in the British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association Management Team Awards in association with Grant Thornton. The national final is held in London on June 25.
Robert Easton, chairman of the Northern Ireland judging panel and managing director alternative asset manager The Carlyle Group, said: "Northern Ireland is home to a huge number of stand-out companies which are making a real contribution to both the local and national economies.
"The winners of this year's BVCA Management Teams are a testament to that, showcasing the innovation and growth stories of the region and underlining how important private equity and venture capital is to the business community."
The other Northern Ireland winners are Williams Industry Services (WIS Group), whose chief executive John Toner won the highly-prized Northern Ireland CEO of the year.
Phoenix Natural Gas won the large buy-out private-equity backed management team of the year, backed by Hastings and the Royal Bank of Scotland Group Pension Fund.
Technology firm Automated Intelligence was the venture capital-backed management team of the year, backed by WhiteRock Capital Partners.
Wood products supplier Balcas, backed by Enterprise Equity, won the community and environmental action award, while security systems specialist Sensurity, which is backed by Invest NI, won the innovation award.
Charlie Kerlin, head of corporate finance at Grant Thornton in Northern Ireland, said the standard of the winners reflected the "strong base of high growth businesses" in the province.
"The growth experienced by these companies would not have been possible without the funding and support from their equity backers," he added.