A new VC fund will seek to bridge the estimated £300m venture capital funding gap for scaling businesses in the North West of England.

Praetura Ventures is aiming to raise £15 million EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme) capital by May to fund around eight to 10 early-stage companies in the region.

Following a rebrand from Praetura Capital it has also announced key senior hires with track records in supporting UK tech entrepreneurs.

Former chief commercial officer at Phones4U Scott Hooton joins the business as operations director. Jonathan Prescott, previously regional sales director at Octopus Investments, will head up business development and fundraising activities.

Mark Lyons and Guy Weaver have also joined to co-lead the investment team after holding leadership roles at Aston Ventures and KPMG respectively.

Praetura Ventures is to sponsor BusinessCloud's Tech Investment breakfast this week.

The event takes place at the UKFast Campus in Manchester on March 22nd and will look at all aspects of funding for the tech sector.

Louise Rigby is the investment director of Praetura Ventures and one of eight confirmed speakers at the event.

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Praetura already has a proven track record generating lucrative returns by backing early-stage businesses. The company has invested over £100m since 2011, with four successful exits to-date at an average of 8x return on investment.

Its existing portfolio is made up of some of the North West’s most exciting early stage businesses including Peak AI and Sorted.

Due to close mid-May, the EIS fund will invest in high-growth early-stage tech or IP enabled businesses, targeting a minimum return of 2x over a five to seven-year period.

David Foreman, MD of Praetura Ventures, said: “The launch of our first EIS fund is an exciting milestone for Praetura Ventures, as we look to bridge the funding gap in the North West.

“The fund will allow us to back exceptional management teams and entrepreneurs and will open up opportunities for investors to benefit from the entrepreneurial talent in the region.

“The fund is the first step in our journey to become a leading venture capital firm in the region.

“We’re now eager to hear from ambitious entrepreneurs and management teams as well as investors who are keen to invest in exciting opportunities in the North West.”

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David Grimes, founder and CEO of Sorted, said: “Some investors like to sweep in and take over your business, but Praetura don’t operate like that.

“They’re unique in their approach to portfolio companies. They back your vision and give you the support to make it happen.

“They know how to build and grow a company and help you to speak to the right people at the right time.

“Finance is a great example: Praetura put one of their own people into the business to make sure it was operating properly.

“It proved critical when we went on to do further fundraising.”

Praetura Ventures is part of the Praetura group, sitting alongside debt-focused businesses Praetura Asset Finance and Praetura Commercial Finance.