Campus Capital has taken a US model across the pond to support student tech startups and the next generation of VCs
“The early bird catches the worm” is an adage that certainly seems to apply to the co-founders of Campus Capital, the VC firm. Drawing on the success of companies like Facebook and Snapchat, both of which were first conceived in student dorm rooms, Campus Capital aims to invest in early-stage university tech companies.
While the firm’s business model is a UK first, it’s based on successful American counterparts and will invest in startups that are university spin-outs, alumni businesses or local startups. The business will not only nurture new entrepreneurs but will also nurture the next generation of investors by giving students the opportunity to act as VCs themselves and participate alongside investment professionals in the management of the firm’s portfolio. “Many students are passionate about business and enterprise and in tune with new technology so [they] are well placed to spot emerging trends and scout for potential investments,” said Michael Howe, co-founder of Campus Capital.
The VC company has now launched its first partnership with the University of Sheffield along with its first £2m fund, with plans to eventually roll out the model across the UK. Commenting on the partnership, Sara Pates, head of enterprise at the University of Sheffield, said: “We are very excited to be partnering in such an innovative initiative, which compliments existing similar provision for students to make stock market investments. It is the ‘real’ element of both of these opportunities which make them so valuable to our students. Students will develop a broad range of employability skills whilst gaining a unique insight into the world of VC investments and entrepreneurial startups.”
The university VC firm is supported by by Tech North, the government-backed network aimed at accelerating tech startups in the north of England. It will be managed by a manager authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, the financial regulatory body.
Given that the British Chambers of Commerce and the Boardroom Bellwether report both recently painted a rather bleak forecast of the business landscape of 2017, it’s encouraging to see initiatives aimed at ensuring a steady pipeline of both talented tech entrepreneurs and investors.