Belfast Telegraph

Foster announces two new funds to Invest NI Access to Finance portfolio

Stormont Executive press release - Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has announced the creation of two new equity funds by Invest Northern Ireland as part of its Access to Finance portfolio.

The two venture capital funds, Crescent III and Bank of Ireland Kernel Capital Growth Fund (NI), have been designed to help SMEs in Northern Ireland to accelerate their growth. Invest Northern Ireland has committed £15million of funding to each fund, which have the potential to invest over £48million in SMEs over the next five years. 

Arlene Foster said: “These funds are part of a major Access to Finance initiative established by Invest NI to help to boost private sector growth, ensuring that companies with high growth potential are not held back because they cannot access finance. This brings the total funds supported by Invest NI to six, providing a continuum of funding worth over £140millon.

“Both funds are equity based and will operate for 10 years. Investments will support local innovative companies that have the potential to grow in global markets. They are valuable additions to the existing sources of funding for businesses in Northern Ireland.

“Invest NI’s Access to Finance portfolio is making a real impact. At the end of the last financial year over £20million of investments had been made, helping over 180 businesses access the finance they needed to grow their business.”

The funds will be managed by fund managers Crescent Capital and Kernel Capital following a competitive tendering process. Each fund aims to make four investments a year in the £450,000 to £2million value range.

Colin Walsh, Managing Director at Crescent Capital, said: Crescent has been a champion for investment in local businesses for nearly two decades, having backed many entrepreneurial teams across a wide variety of sectors. This new fund is Crescent’s third and enables us to continue to support first class businesses with global ambitions. Raising a fund in the current economic environment has been challenging; we’re now ready to do business with entrepreneurs and viable investment propositions.”

Dr. Daniel McCaughan Partner of Kernel Capital, said: “The Bank of Ireland Kernel Capital Growth Fund (NI) will offer new opportunities for dynamic Northern Ireland companies and we look forward to working closely with Northern Ireland’s entrepreneurial and business community. We appreciate the commitment of Invest NI and our long term partner, Bank of Ireland, in enabling this significant positive step in further enhancing the Access to Finance initiative.”

Notes to editors:

1. Invest NI has developed a suite of funds under the banner Access to Finance to help bridge a gap in available finance as a result of a reduction in the number of private investors and banks willing to lend.

The six funds provide over £140million of available finance. The funds are either debt or equity based, and are designed to support businesses of different sizes, or at different stages of growth or development. 

The combined value of the Developments Funds is £60million to include management fees. The final value of the Funds is dependent on securing further private sector investment.

For details on all funds visit

2. Crescent Capital has a strong track record of Venture Capital investment in Northern Ireland, and the latest fund, Crescent III, follows on from two previously successful funds. 

Kernel Capital is an independent venture capital firm that has a strong track record of managing similar funds in the Republic of Ireland following receipt of a number of commitments under the Enterprise Ireland Seed and Venture Capital Schemes. Bank of Ireland has a long term partnership with Kernel Capital, providing cornerstone investment into all of its Funds under Management. This new Fund, managed by Kernel, will be known as the Bank of Ireland Kernel Capital Growth Fund (NI).

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