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April 15, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 11:25am

5 UK IoT venture capitalists making investments in drones, software and monitoring

List: Millions are being poured into the IoT space, but who are some of the main backers in the UK?

By Joao Lima

IoT investment in start ups is at an all time high, with $846m invested in 70 projects worldwide in Q1 2016 alone, according to CB Insights.

This is a sharp increase from Q1 2015’s of $680m, however, the number of deals closed in the first quarter this year was lower than the amount of investments in the first quarter of last year (87).

CBR lists five UK investors betting on the IoT.


MMC Ventures

London based MMC Ventures labels itself as one of the most active venture capital investors in the UK.

Founded back in 2000, the firm invests in UK based businesses that have global ambition. Businesses also have to be using software, the internet and data in order to qualify for funding.

MMC has currently £160 million under management.

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The company has invested, for example, in Sky-Futures, putting $1.5m into the provider of drone inspection services for the oil and gas industry.

Sky-Futures uses software to automate analysis of the data its drones gather, helping to identify potential problems in a rig and provide corrosion forecasts.

Clients access imagery and analysis through a cloud-hosted portal, together with input from engineers.



The Saatchinvest Angel Stage Technology fund is also headquartered in London, and backs start ups in their early stages of financing.

It invests on average between £50,000 to £300,000 per "disruptive idea", however, investments can go as high as $10 million, such as in the case of Citymapper.

Other companies invested in include data startup PicassoLabs, search engine Yossarian and Gluru, which is selling itself as the Google Now for the enterprise.

One of the main IoT investments made by the company was in smart platform provider Evrythng, which has grown to be one of the key IoT platform players in the market.

The company has raised $19 million in three funding rounds, however, specific figures by the investor have not been released.

The platform connects consumer products to the web and manages real-time data to drive applications.

Its customer base include companies like GE, CocaCola and iHome. Partners include Samsung’s SmartThings, Google’s Nest, ARM, Cisco, Broadcom, and others.


Balderton Capital

Also based in the British capital and also founded in 2000, Balderton Capital is a venture fund managing funds of $2.3 billion, with average investments spanning from $1 million to $20 million.

Some of the most well known investments include companies like Bebo, MySQL and Lovefilm.

Balderton Capital has also invested in the UK’s answer to Airbnb, HouseTrip, which has raised over $60 million since its foundation in 2010.

The start up functions in a similar way to Airbnb, listing thousands of properties available for holidays around Europe.

The company is now looking at using learning algorithms including machine learning and neural networks to rank search results better and offer faster services for potential holiday makers.



Hoxton Ventures

Seed and early stage investor Hoxton Ventures has $40 million available for investment, mainly in the areas of internet, mobile and software, including artificial intelligence.

The company invests between $250,000 to $2 million, and aims to be a shareholder of the startup that it invests in for a period of seven to ten years.

It has backed 14 companies to date with an average initial investment of $89,904. Some of the backed companies include Deliveroo, Darktrace, Campanja and Raptor Supplies.

One of its most most successful investments in the IoT arena was Babylon, a UK AI healthcare start up that scored the largest series A funding in Europe in January 2016.

The company raised $25 million, led by Investment AB Kinnevik. Hoxton Ventures has not disclosed how much it contributed to the round.

Babylon plans to deploy the latest gains in AI and data analytics in its platform, which will utilise machine learning to analyse genetics, environment, behaviour and biology, in addition to key body functions to ensure users are staying healthy and provide real time personalised health advice as and when needed.


Octopus Investments

London-based Octopus Investments is currently managing £5 billion for over 50,000 customers.

The company, also created in 2000, runs its major venture capital arm through Octopus Ventures (OV), which has made 137 investments in 91 companies, according to CrunchBase.

OV invests in the range of $200,000 to $25 million per investment, and targets mostly mobile, SaaS, enterprise software, consumer innovation, IT infrastructure, media and healthcare.

Top investments include start-ups like Uniplaces, Secret Escapes and CurrencyFair.

When it comes to the IoT, the most recent investment dates back to April 5, in a series A round that saw OV invest £13.7 million in Origami Energy.

The start up plans to create technology and financial mechanisms, which might be a marketplace, that are required to connect, control and actively manage a large network of existing energy generating, energy using, and energy storing assets connected to the electricity grid.

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