Monday 16 December 2019

Revealed: the white collar firms cashing in on tech funding deals

Who are the white collar firms cashing in on tech funding deals in Ireland? Our technology editor looks at the law and accountancy companies winning consultancy contracts on venture capital deals

Garry Moroney, chief executive officer of Clavis Insight.
Garry Moroney, chief executive officer of Clavis Insight.
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

The law firm William Fry has emerged as the most prolific white collar company that is getting in on tech funding deals in Ireland.

Research by the Irish Independent shows that the Dublin-based solicitor firm was involved in 35 tech funding deals in Ireland over the last 12 months, with a combined deal value of over €200m. These included a €45m funding round for Limerick-based waste software firm AMCS, an €18m round for Dublin software firm Clavis Insight and a €19m round for the software firm Swrve.

The majority of the funding deals advised on by the solicitor firm, which employs 320 legal and tax consultants, were software companies. William Fry was the sole adviser in a minority of the 35 funding deals. However, these deals included a €10.7m round for the medical technology firm Neuravi and a €9.5m round for the financial software firm Fenergo. The average funding round that William Fry consulted on was worth €5.7m.

The next two most prolific advisers in Ireland's tech funding landscape over the last year were the law firms ByrneWallace (15 deals worth €130m) and Maples (13 deals worth €110m).

ByrneWallace advised on a number of medical technology funding rounds, including a €15m round for the Dublin-based iPad software firm 3D4Medical.

Another law firm, Beauchamps, advised on at least nine separate funding rounds worth a cumulative €9.6m. These included a €1.4m funding round for Pearse Coyle's flash memory tech firm NVMdurance.

The Dublin-based accountancy firm BDO was involved in at least three funding deals, including an €8.4m tranche for the online money transfer service CurrencyFair.

Other professional firms that advised on significant Irish venture capital deals in the last 12 months include PricewaterhouseCoopers, which also advised on the €45m funding round for the Limerick-based waste and recycling software company AMCS.

KPMG also advised on at least one deal, an €18m funding tranche for Dublin-based Cubic Telecom. Meanwhile, the Dublin law firm Venture Legal was involved in advising Dublin-based chip design company Movidius on a €23m funding round last year.

The figures are based on data provided by the Irish Venture Capital Association for funding deals done in 2015.

Overall, €522m was put into tech and biotech companies here by investors last year, a 30pc rise on the €401m invested in 2014.

Business software continues to dominate tech investment in Ireland, with 26.5pc (€127.9m) of all the venture capital taken in last year. There were also more individual investments in business software startups, with 53 of the 125 Irish funding rounds last year allocated to startups and companies that develop software.

On a per-investment basis, individual biotech and pharmaceutical-related technology investments were larger than any other type of tech activity. The average pharma-biotech funding round in Ireland was €8.8m in 2015, followed by financial tech (€7.6m per round), environmental tech (€6.9m) and telecoms (€6.8m).

Individual investments in electronic components companies here averaged €4.9m, while medical devices firms saw €4m per funding round. Despite being the biggest overall tech activity sector here, business software recorded a lower per-investment figure of €2.4m.

After software, medical tech firms attracted the most overall funding here last year with €75.3m in venture capital. Financial technology came next at €68.1m, although this includes a €45.5m investment in Circle which is a US-based company that 'reversed' into Ireland for financial reasons.

One area of growth has come from international venture capital firms investing in Irish firms.

International investor cash now counts for 46pc of venture funding into Ireland, a big jump on 2014 (33pc). Five years ago, international funding represented just 17pc of Irish VC activity, the IVCA figures show.

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