ISIF and AIB put €25m into start-up investment fund –

The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) and state-owned bank AIB have put €25m into a London-based private equity fund that is investing in Irish tech and life sciences start-ups.

ISIF has committed €15m to the Claret European Growth Capital Fund III, according to a spokeperson, while it is understood AIB has added €10m from its own balance sheet.

The fund, which is managed by growth funding specialist Claret Capital, just closed after raising €297m from a range of institutional and private investors.

With co-investing commitments, the firm is looking to put €500m of growth capital into at least 50 European high-tech firms over the next three years.

That will include targeted lending to Irish technology and life sciences companies due to the participation of ISIF and AIB.

“We see Claret as a welcome participant in the Irish market as its product is particularly attractive to high growth scaling Irish companies providing an alternative funding option to them,” said an ISIF spokesperson, who said Claret supported ISIF’s “indigenous strategy” of investing in Irish companies.

“The fund targets a particular niche and the team has a long track record lending to those companies.”

Claret was formed in 2020 when Dubliner David Bateman and co-founder Johan Kampe bought out the European growth funds they ran for Harbert Management Corporation, a US institutional investor.

The firm now has €400m of managed assets across three funds with more than 120 portfolio companies. Fund III was launched in March 2021 and has invested in 29 companies to date. It originally targeted a fund raise of €250m. In addition to the €297m it raised, the firm said it has co-investment commitments that give the fund €500m in firepower.

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Claret invests via loans of €1m to €50m secured on business assets for up to five years, plus an equity component. The money is typically used to support growth companies – businesses that generate significant revenue but that may burn through a lot of cash or have negative earnings.

The company has a track record of supporting Irish start-ups, alongside its commitments to firms from the UK, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Singapore and Spain.

Its Irish investments include peer-to-peer currency exchange CurrencyFair, mobile marketing solutions firm Swrve and e-health start-up Altratech.

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