ACT raises ?170m tech fund

ACT Venture Capital, an independent Irish firm, has raised €170 million to invest in the country’s technology sector. It is the largest fund raised in 2002 for technology investing. Niall Carroll, managing director of ACT, said: “Ireland is being increasingly recognised as one of Europe’s most innovative and successful high technology cluster locations and we are naturally pleased to have had our performance and investment strategy endorsed by leading domestic and international investment institutions.”

ACT Venture Capital is the third fund raised by ACT, the last vehicle raised €101 million in 2000. Like its predecessors the new fund will invest primarily in indigenous Irish companies, at various stages of development, with strong technologies aimed at international markets. Carroll tips the enterprise software, chips, opto-electronics and wireless sectors.

ACT’s portfolio includes companies in software, communications and Internet technology as well as the more traditional development capital and buyout investments. The firm also provides follow-on funding, usually in syndication with overseas venture capital funds. During the last three years, over €150 million has been invested by overseas investors in Irish companies that were initially funded by ACT.

The enlarged fund size enables ACT to increase its average investment size slightly to around €8 million, typically placed across two rounds. The new fund started making investments in early 2002 and has already invested €15 million in five companies. These are Accelerated Encryption Processing (SSL accelerators), Am-Beo (IP billing solutions), Ultrasonic Scientific (analytic instrumentation), HeartSine (medical defibrillators) and Alphamosaic (videocore processors).

ACT was formed in 1994 when the management team of AIB’s venture capital subsidiary span out of the bank. The Dublin-based firm now manages a total of €350 million. Since its formation the firm has invested in over 50 companies, mainly in Ireland. Last year ACT invested €25 million.

The fund has strong domestic support from Irish institutional investors including Bank of Ireland Asset Management, KBC Asset Management, AIB Group Irish Pension Scheme, Eircom Superannuation Fund, ESB Pension Fund, Hibernian Investment Managers, Friends First and the GMS Superannuation Fund.

The fund has also attracted investors from further afield. Carroll says: “Ireland needs see more international successes in the technology sector and we are particularly pleased to have attracted the support of prestigious overseas investors, who are expected to contribute significantly to our strategy for the international development of companies backed by the fund.” Commitments came from JP Morgan Fleming, Merrill Lynch, Partners Group, Access Capital Partners, Extorel, VCM and the EIF.