Scots impact investor SIS Ventures tops £5.6m

SIS Ventures executive director Arran Dewar

Scottish “impact” investor SIS Ventures has released its inaugural impact report to highlight “the positive impacts on people and planet delivered by its investee companies.”

SIS Ventures is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Social Investment Scotland (SIS) and is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Since launching the Impact First Fund in 2018, SIS Ventures said it has invested more than £5.6 million in 14 “high-impact, high growth potential businesses, all innovation-led and connected by a shared belief in business as a force for good.”

Since securing investment, these companies have subsequently secured £65 million in follow-on funding rounds, SIS Ventures said.

In return for investment, SIS Ventures seeks a “mission lock” – where the social and/or environmental mission of the organisation is locked into the Articles of Association and cannot be changed without consent.

SIS Ventures said its portfolio companies have:

  • Created 318 jobs globally of which 149 jobs have been created in Scotland since receiving investment from SIS Ventures
  • Developed innovations in diagnosis and treatment for patients with brain cancers, liver disease, asthma, epilepsy and cystic fibrosis – with the potential to treat multiple other conditions and illnesses
  • Delivered innovations to support positive environment impacts across multiple industries including the advertising, energy and food and drink sectors

Investee companies are also carefully selected for their commitment to developing their environmental, equality and diversity, social impact and governance practices.

About 43% of investee companies are founded or co-founded by women.

“SIS Ventures’ Impact First fund was created to offer investors the opportunity to make tax-efficient financial returns alongside impact returns by investing equity into Scotland-based businesses whose impact aims for people and planet are aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs),” said SIS Ventures.

“Each portfolio business is led by a unique mission including, for example, providing earlier diagnosis for life-limiting diseases such as cancer (Dxcover) and Parkinson’s (Manus Neurodynamica), tackling some of agriculture’s most pressing environmental issues for crop protection (Solasta Bio) and animal feed (Beta Bugs), encouraging the switch to electric vehicles through on-street charging points (Trojan Energy), and turning online advertising into a force for good (Good Loop).”

SIS Ventures executive director Arran Dewar said: “At SIS Ventures we believe that impactful businesses, which combine profit with purpose, are the future and should be supported with the full power of the investor community.

“For a relatively young, but rapidly growing portfolio, I am particularly pleased with the steps taken by our investee companies towards commercial growth and progress on delivery of impact.

“This impact can be seen within Scotland, and well beyond across several continents, as products and services gain traction in widening markets, and progress is made on regulation with several jurisdictions for our life science investments.

“Delivering impact through innovation takes time, as early technical and commercial milestones are key. Some of our portfolio companies are delivering impact now – others are working toward technical and commercial milestones before realising their full impact ambitions.

“Our unique approach to impact management ensures that we can work alongside our co-investors to help investees scale their businesses without compromising on their impact aims and ambitions.”

One of SIS Ventures’ earliest investments, Cyacomb, aims to make the online world a safer place where no harmful digital content can be hidden or shared.

The company develops technology that pinpoints harmful content, at source, enabling law enforcement, social media and cloud companies to scan devices up to 100 times faster than traditional methods.

Agencies are able to quickly find, block and remove illegal images and videos, ensuring incriminating evidence has nowhere to hide.

Cyacomb CEO Ian Stevenson said: “A lot of investors talk about ‘adding value’ to a business – I can say from experience that not all succeed. SIS Ventures has definitely added value.

“The processes we have been supported us through, along with their guidance, have put us in a position where we have a strong understanding of our impact.

“That is extremely helpful in conversations with potential future investors, whether they are impact-focused or not.”