24 March 2017

French gas analysers maker among recipients of angel investment in March

2017 has so far proven to be fairly promising in terms of the aggregate value of angel investment deals signed off in Western European companies, with both January and February surpassing November and December by volume and value. According to Zephyr, the M&A database published by Bureau van Dijk, so far it does not appear that March is likely to reach the same heights. Although there are still 11 days to go until the end of the month at the time of writing, the EUR 52 million invested across 29 deals so far means the result is still some way off the 47 deals worth EUR 120 million signed off in February and the EUR 125 million injected through 52 transactions in January. The result could also be down year-on-year as activity does not appear likely to reach the same levels as March 2016 (43 angel investments worth EUR 111 million). Despite the decline recorded in March to date, there have still been some significant injections announced; so far European angel investments have broken the EUR 10 million barrier in the month under review.

The largest of these transactions was worth just under EUR 14 million and involved UK-headquartered anti-malware software developer Garrison Technology, which brought in a round led by Touchstone Innovations, with participation from Business Growth Fund, NM Capital and undisclosed existing angels. Proceeds of the transaction have been earmarked for accelerating product development while hiring new staff in advance of plans to launch its product to market.

One injection which caught the eye this month as it involves a company based outside the software development area frequently targeted by angel investors was Blue Industry and Science, a French manufacturer of air quality monitoring instruments. The company has secured EUR 1.00 million from Newfund Management and undisclosed business angels. Blue Industry and Science intends to utilise proceeds of the deal for its ongoing commercial development and to target major international industrial partners. The firm is developing a new generation of field gas analysers which are designed to combine the accuracy of ppb level real-time detection with true multigas capabilities. According to its website, the group’s technology offers significant improvements to existing laser spectrometer technology as a result of its ability to monitor hundreds of gases with a single laser source. Blue Industry and Science is targeting clients in the oil and gas, energy, food, chemistry and pharmaceuticals sectors.

Angels have targeted a number of other manufacturers of measuring, displaying and controlling instruments in the past; in fact, 53 such deals have been announced worldwide since the beginning of 2006. The most valuable featured a US-headquartered company as automobile autopilot system technology developer Cruise Automation brought in a EUR 14.80 million Series A round from 66 investors, including Spark Capital Partners and Sam Altman. This was followed by a EUR 12 million injection in India-headquartered mobile fitness application developer GOQii Technologies led by New Enterprise Associates and Cheetah Mobile, with additional participation from Great Wall Club, DSG Consumer Partners, Ilkka Paananen and Pravin Gandhi. Companies operating in the sector to have been targeted by angels over the last 11 years are based in locations such as Norway, China, Sweden and Canada.

To conclude, Western European angel investment activity has so far reached reasonable levels in 2017, although it does not appear that any records are likely to be broken in the coming months in terms of either volume or value if levels so far are any sign of things to come. Nevertheless, the fact that investments are still taking place, some of which are significant in size, is a positive sign.

© Zephyr