Ada Ventures raises £27m to invest in diversity-driven tech start-ups

Ada Ventures will invest £500,000 apiece in 30 tech startups run by minorities often overlooked by traditional venture capital.

Ada Ventures, the diversity-driven venture capital fund, has raised £27m to invest in overlooked entrepreneurs building companies which focus on under-served customers.

The fund plans to make 30 investments in tech businesses addressing global problems affecting specific demographics such as women or ageing populations or teenagers.

Key sectors are healthcare, consumer and the future of work.

Typically, Ada Ventures will look to invest £500,000 in seed funding following the launch of a business.

Two-thirds of the money for the new fund is coming from British Business Bank with other investors including Atomico and Taavet Hinrikus, founder of TransferWise.

>See also: Why venture capital funds need to develop a social conscience

The fund has already made seven investments in startups including Polipop, the world’s first flushable sanitary pad; IVF medtech company Juno Bio; and road traffic incident risk-monitoring technology Predina.

Roughly half the £27m fund will be reserved for follow-on investments.

The fund has been founded by experienced early stage investors Francesca Warner and Matt Penneycard, who hope the fund will address the lack of diversity and geographical reach of most venture capital.

At present, 92 in every hundred dollars invested in European tech goes to all-male teams, while 83 per cent of founders are white, according to research. In Britain, a quarter of VC investment committees did not interview a single female founder in 2017. And last year, nearly three-quarters of VC funding was invested in London alone.

Commenting on her experience of Ada Ventures leading its £500,000 pre-seed round, Pilipop CEO Olivia Ahn said: “As a a femtech company with a strong sustainability mission, we found investors were hesitant in an unfamiliar market. From the first meeting with Ada, it was clear Check and Matt were different. They were not only fantastic advocates for the femtech space but also for female and minority founders.”

The fund takes its name from Ada Lovelace, the 19-century computer science pioneer, recognised for writing the world’s first algorithm.

Warner and Penneycard have worked together for four years at Downing Ventures, Seraphim Capital and Techstars, where their investments have included fashion platform Trouva. Warner also co-founded venture capital diversity network Diversity VC and was recently named one of the Forbes 30 Under 30.

Warner said: “I’ve seen how structurally narrowly-focused the industry is, investing in the same founders building products and services for the same customers. This is a huge missed opportunity. Ada Ventures is here to change that.”

Ken Cooper, managing director venture solutions at the British Business Bank, added: “Not investing in a diverse mix of business founders is a missed opportunity for the UK economy and Ada Ventures, with its fund focused on democratising VC investment, regardless of gender, race, background or location, is an important step in the direction to address this.”

Further reading on venture capital

Investors plough £9bn into British tech funding in 2019, up nearly 50%

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