British Business Bank, Diversity VC and BVCA announce new initiative to examine diversity in Venture

23-May-2018

Three organisations are joining forces to run an industry-wide initiative which will build the first clear picture of the representation of women, and diversity more broadly, in the pipelines of UK venture capital firms, and how this corresponds to the deals that get done. 

The British Business Bank, the UK government-owned economic development bank; Diversity VC, a non-profit organisation focused on increasing representation in venture capital; and the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA) are collaborating on the initiative. 

As an independent organisation, the British Business Bank will provide a way for the VC industry to share diversity data anonymously, helping to build a common understanding of the state of play that the industry can use to identify issues and develop solutions.

From all UK VC firms are invited to participate. Ten firms have already agreed to take part and contribute their data:
• Amadeus Capital
• Atomico
• Balderton Capital
• Draper Esprit
• Frog Capital
• Frontline Ventures
• LocalGlobe
• Notion Capital
• Oxford Capital Partners
• Scottish Equity Partners 

Venture capitalists and investors around the world acknowledge that the industry needs to address underlying issues with respect to gender and diversity. US data shows that, in 2017, 2% of all VC funding went to companies started solely by women, and the figure is only 17% for companies with at least one female founder. 

Initial British Business Bank analysis suggests the picture is very similar in the UK, but the pipeline data from within the VCs themselves is needed to answer the key questions and identify where the biggest issues are in the operation of VC markets in the UK. 

As part of the Patient Capital Review, HM Treasury asked the British Business Bank to research the issues faced by female founders when they seek VC and to contribute to the development of credible solutions. In 2017 Diversity VC and BVCA published findings on VC investors, showing that women are underrepresented in UK VC: 27% of the VC labour force are women, and only 13% of decision makers are women. 

Speaking at the BVCA’s Breaking Barriers event in London, Alice Hu-Wagner, British Business Bank’s head of strategy, economics & business development launched the initiative, said: 

“It’s difficult for the industry to make progress without the data to understand where the problems lie. This initiative gives VCs a way to share their insights without compromising their proprietary methods” 

British Business Bank CEO, Keith Morgan said: 

“The British Business Bank is ideally placed to help the industry address these challenges, given our impartiality, knowledge and experience. We are asking fund managers to step forward, contributing their focus and data to help facilitate this industry-wide effort.” 

British Business Investments (the commercial arm of the British Business Bank) CEO, Catherine Lewis La Torre said: 

“Currently, the low levels of VC funding to female founders represent untapped potential. I believe that addressing the issues women face in getting such growth finance will present exciting new investment opportunities for the VC industry.” 

Diversity VC CEO, Check Warner said: 

“It is comparatively easy to take the total number of companies that have raised money, and to count the number of founders from diverse backgrounds. It is extremely difficult to know the ‘hidden’ number that comes before: those that have attempted to raise funding from venture capitalists. The ambition of this project is to shine a light on this previously secret process. We need venture capitalists to step up to the plate and share their data anonymously, to help make their industry a fairer place.” 

BVCA deputy director general and director of policy, Gurpreet Manku said: 

“The BVCA is very supportive of this research and encourages all venture capital firms to participate to maximise its value to the industry.  The British Business Bank is ideally placed to carry out this study and its findings will offer unique insights that will benefit both female founders and venture capital investors alike.” 

The British Business Bank, Diversity VC and BVCA are asking UK VC funds to register their interest in this important initiative as soon as possible. 

Those that would like to participate should contact Nick Shuttleworth at nick.shuttleworth@british-business-bank.co.uk. Further information is available at https://british-business-bank.co.uk/research/venture-capital-and-female-founders/. 

Over June and July, the British Business Bank will work closely with individual VCs to collect their anonymous data. A report of the findings will be published in Autumn 2018.