Govt invests in new €20m Highland Capital Partners fund

8 Mar 2013

The Irish Government has supported the creation of US venture capital firm Highland Capital Partners’ first dedicated European fund. The €20m fund, which will be run from Ireland, will be focused solely on growth-phase technology companies.

Enterprise Ireland has committed €10m to the Highland Fund, alongside a commitment of €10m by the National Pensions Reserve Fund. Enterprise Ireland has committed a further €10m to the fund when it completes a second closing.   

The fund will be establishing an office in the Irish market in April headed by Tony Zappalà, who has recently joined Highland Capital from Index Ventures.

The arrival of Highland Capital will result in new funding being available for innovative Irish companies in the tech sector, to help them grow and create jobs.

Venture funding key to high-growth companies

Speaking from Texas where he is leading a trade mission to the influential SXSW digital media event, Ireland’s Jobs and Innovation Minister Richard Bruton, TD, explained: “The technology sector is a key target in the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs. Since we have taken office we have seen employment growth of over 11,000 in ICT, and we are implementing a number of measures to support further growth in this sector.

“Venture capital funding is a key part of this. We have provided a €60m second call under Innovation Fund Ireland which will be leveraged by further private-sector funds, as well as €700m domestic venture capital scheme, to help provide funding, as well as strategic advice and networks, to high-growth Irish companies.

“Today’s announcement that Highland Capital Partners, a leading international venture capital fund manager, is partnering with Enterprise Ireland and the NPRF to establish a fund to invest in innovative companies in Ireland, is a major boost for the Irish venture capital industry and for innovative Irish companies, such those who have travelled to Texas this week,” Bruton said.

Highland Capital founding partner Fergal Mullen said the company is excited about establishing a permanent presence in the Irish market.

“We are deeply impressed by the quality of entrepreneurs in the Irish technology sector and are convinced that a number of world-leading Irish companies will emerge in the coming decade.  

“Our objective is to get behind these leaders with our capital, our know-how, our network, and our enthusiastic support. We hope that companies across the tech sector, even those that we do not back with our capital, will find ways to leverage our expertise and network for the benefit of the entire Irish tech sector,” Mullen said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years