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DSW Ventures launches fund to address startup ‘regional imbalance’

DSW Ventures team
Image credit: DSW Ventures

VC firm DSW Ventures is launching a Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) to invest in early-stage startups across the UK that are “outside of the London-Oxbridge golden triangle”.

Manchester-based DSW Ventures, the venture capital division of financial advisory firm Dow Schofield Watts group, said it plans to raise “up to £2m” for the new fund.

Dow Schofield Watts partners and associates have “pledged” over £230,00 to the fund, which will capitalise on the upcoming expansion of the SEIS tax incentive scheme.

The SEIS expansion was first announced in former Prime Minister Liz Truss’s ill-fated Budget, but survived the reversals under Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

It means that from April, startups will be able to secure £250,000 funding with tax reliefs, compared to the previous £150,000 limit. Companies that are three years old will also be eligible, up from two years.

DSW Ventures has invested in 11 businesses since it was established in 2019, including Propello, a startup that creates white-label customer loyalty software for businesses such as Hello Fresh and JD Gyms.

DSW says it has facilitated £12.5m of venture capital investments and plans to invest “at least” £1m a year in startups and university spinouts outside of London, Oxford and Cambridge with the SEIS fund.

“We set up DSW Ventures to take advantage of the opportunity created by the huge regional imbalance in early-stage venture capital,” said Keith Benson, cofounder of DSW Ventures. “Investing in entrepreneurial and scientific talent acts as a catalyst for growth in local economies, creating jobs and supporting communities whilst generating very attractive investor returns.”