Liverpool SME fund targets AI ventures

Liverpool SME funder River Capital offers investments of up to £2m for businesses focused in developing artificial intelligence. Tony McDonough reports

River Capital is to invest in AI ventures via fund:AI


River Capital is setting up a new fund to support businesses focused on artificial intelligence (AI).

Liverpool-based River is looking to make investments of between £500,000 and £2m from its first Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS). Called fund:AI, this initiative will target early-stage, high growth ventures working in AI, machine learning and data science.

A subsidiary of Merseyside Special Investment Fund (MSIF), River Capital was formerly called Alliance Fund Managers. Since 2002 has supported more than 2,000 Liverpool city region businesses with loan and equity investments totalling £163m.

In September it left the offices it shared with MSIF in Exchange Court close to Liverpool Town Hall. Now it has set up a separate base in The Plaza at nearby St Paul’s Square.

River Capital claims northern data science SMEs are “underserved by” venture capital. This is despite the north containing multiple centres of AI excellence.

With the UK AI market estimated to achieve annual growth of 35.9%, the fund will present a significant opportunity for investors looking to capitalise on the untapped potential of the region.

The fund:AI team will look to invest in around 15 AI-driven businesses over the next five years. It anticipates investing in two broad categories of AI SMEs.

READ MORE: River Capital launches £8m fund for SMEs

The first comprises businesses seeking capital to accelerate their growth or build out their AI platforms. The second includes companies with untapped data sets who wish to use AI to create data IP and to go on an AI, machine learning or data science “journey”.

Investment director David Walters said: “Data is fund:AI’s superpower. We intend to use that superpower both to add value to AI businesses and to deliver great returns to investors.

“Our investment team provides unique experience combining people with operational leadership experience in the AI space as well as seasoned investors who have been directly involved in significant AI and Data investments in the north.”

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