Belfast Telegraph

Equity fund invests £1.5m in two firms

By Clare Weir

A medical imaging company and a print and packaging firm are the first beneficiaries of the Invest NI equity fund.

Cirdan Imaging Ltd and MSO Cleland have scored the first Co-Fund NI investment deals worth over £1.5m.

The recently launched fund will co-invest with business angel or private investor-led deals and is managed by Clarendon Fund Managers Ltd.

It was set up as a way to support businesses when banks are reluctant to lend.

Part financed by the European Regional Development Fund, Invest NI has provided £7.2m, which Clarendon aims to use to secure total investment of £16m over six years.

Co-Fund NI's £163,875 investment in Lisburn-based Cirdan Imaging Ltd was part of an equity investment round of more than £540,000 which included private equity investors.

The deal was led by Queen's University's venture spin-out company, QUBIS. The fund's £250,000 investment in MSO Cleland, which is based in Belfast, was also part of an equity investment round of £1m. This investment was alongside business angels.

Enterprise minister Arlene Foster made the announcement at the 'Business of Finance' conference in Belfast, where she addressed delegates who were considering or actively seeking investment.

Dr Hugh Cormican, chief executive at Cirdan, said the investment represents a milestone in the company's growth plans. The company has been in operation for just two years.

"Cirdan are developing products to assist Radiologists and Pathologists with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer," he said. "We have projected that Cirdan will grow sales to around £10m within five years. We already have a strong team in place but with this investment we can add to that team and achieve our sales targets in international markets."

Dominic Walsh, boss at MSO Cleland, said that the firm had been involved in the packaging industry since 1876.

"We pride ourselves on being at the forefront of innovative, pioneering packaging and printing solutions for the pharmaceutical, food, health and beauty, and drink and beverage sectors," he said.

"This investment will be a key part of securing the future viability of our business.

"It will help to ensure stability and future growth in employment opportunities for our company."

Invest NI established two new venture capital funds to stimulate private-sector growth last year. The Co-investment Fund will target investments of £250,000 to £450,000, while the Development Fund will focus on investments of between £450,000 and £2m. The funds are additional to the Spin Out Fund, which specialises in investments of between £50,000 and £250,000. There is a Growth Loan Fund, which aims to generate £150m sales annual growth and more than 2,000 jobs in 10 years.