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21 October, 2015 - 09:53 By Tony Quested

Marshall launches follow-on large equity fund

Robert Marshall, CEO of Marshall of Cambridge

Cambridge UK industrial business Marshall has launched a new equity investment fund to provide larger amounts of follow-on cash for companies in its angel portfolio, Martlet.

MarQuity plans to inject sums of between £250k and £500k in a typical round.

Apart from ARM in Cambridge, which has a different investment model, Marshall of Cambridge is the only large industrial employer that has created two venture vehicles with such an integrated strategy. One struggles to think of a similar enterprise in the UK.

The amount invested each year by MarQuity will be limited by the ongoing requirements of companies in the Martlet portfolio, rather than any set figure.

The new funding represents ‘patient capital’ as Marshall seeks to back a thoroughbred stable of sustainable businesses over the long haul.

Robert Marshall, CEO of Marshall of Cambridge (pictured above) and a key member of the Martlet and MarQuity investment panels explained the rationale for the follow-on fund.

He said: “MarQuity has been formed to invest larger amounts in later stage Martlet investees. By observing and helping companies in the Martlet portfolio we have got to know the entrepreneurs, the technology and the market and can thus provide a much better judgement on the viability and allocation of later stage funding – the venture gap.”

Martlet was set up in April 2011 and has since invested in 31 startups – plus several businesses in the Springboard IoT accelerator – of which an encouraging 27 are still trading and one has exited.

A total of 66 investment rounds have been completed – that averages more than one investment per month – in a wide variety of B2B sectors, with a focus on engineering technology. More than 150 jobs have been created so far and over half of the startups are based in Cambridge.

Martlet has upped its new investment count year-on-year. There have been a record nine new investments so far in 2015. Peter Cowley, an active Cambridge-based angel, who was the UK business angel on the year for 2014/15, continues to run Martlet. He has now been joined by Tom Hall who previously worked for a local seed fund and helped run the investment process for a number of angels and an angel group for several years.

The investment committee comprises Sir Michael Marshall (executive chair of Marshall of Cambridge), Robert Marshall (Marshall’s CEO), Bill Dastur (Marshall’s group FD) and Peter Cowley.

Earlier this year, two later stage startups funded by Martlet since day one, have received MarQuity funding. Arachnys raised over £2 million earlier in 2015 with MarQuity contributing over 10 per cent of that. All the money came from angels or family offices. Arachnys provides instant extended due diligence to financial services companies, professional services firms and global corporates, has over 30 people located in the cities of London and New York and repeatable SaaS revenue from over 60 financial and trade corporates.

Vantage Power raised over £1.5 million in 2015 and Marquity contributed over 20 per cent of this. Again, all the money came from angels.

Vantage Power has developed a retro-fittable hybrid engine system for double decker buses, providing significant fuel/cost saving and more importantly, correspondingly reduced toxic emissions. Early trial orders have already been received and Robert Marshall has recently joined the board as chair.

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