A Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) investment fund focusing on sourcing new start-ups working in the burgeoning area of robotics has been launched in conjunction with Sapphire Capital Partners.
High Growth Robotics has been launched by technology entrepreneur Dominic Keen, who has outlined plans to partner with the world-class robotics laboratories at various UK universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College and Bristol, to identify potential opportunities.
The fund will invest in up to 12 robotics start-ups each year across a broad range of sectors, including agriculture, construction and logistics.
"The basic robotics behind all these companies is the same, whether they are working on an agricultural robot or one that works in construction," said Keen. "They are all about replacing tedious manual tasks and giving tasks a new level of quality. The fundamentals behind all of them is the technology."
As an example of the kind of innovation the fund would be investing in, Keen pointed to a strawberry-picking robot that managed to perform a "difficult but achievable" task. Keen hoped to offer mentoring to the start-ups as well as provide investment. "We get involved, we visit the campuses and we help them build successful business cases," he said.
"The issue in this country is that we have really good technical people but the weakness almost always is about how they will take the product to market. It is all the commercial stuff the tech guys don't really think about."
Sapphire specialises in bringing SEIS, Enterprise Investment Scheme and Social Investment Tax Relief qualifying companies to market and ensuring compliance with the tax authorities.
Sapphire Capital Partners chief executive Boyd Carson said: "Robotics represents one of today's most exciting investment themes and investors now have the opportunity to enhance their portfolio with a mixed basket of exciting early-stage robotics businesses while also befitting from the significant tax advantages of SEIS."
The fund is open to sophisticated investors with a minimum of £10,000 to invest and the offer closes on 31 March 2017.
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