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Ascension Ventures, a London-based early stage VC fund managing SEIS and EIS funds since 2012 has joined hands with Unicorn India Ventures, a Mumbai-based early stage VC funds with equity and debt funds under its belt to launch first Indo-UK EIS fund. The evergreen fund aims to raise up to £5 million per year and is expected to announce its first close at £2 million by July-end this year.

An EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme), is a tax relief scheme offered by the UK Government through which investors can avail income tax relief for their investments into small companies based in the UK. Leveraging this scheme’s benefits and Ascension’s track record of running multiple EIS funds, Unicorn India Ventures is aiming to open up the Indian market for the UK start-ups. This will bring in cutting edge technologies from the UK to the Indian technology ecosystem.

Jean de Fourgerolles, Partner, Unicorn Ascension EIS Fund and Founder, Ascension, says, “The Fund represents a double benefit, where EIS tax reliefs afforded to UK investors can significantly reduce their capital risks and an entry into India offers a unique exposure to one of the largest and fastest growing economy in the World.”

The Unicorn Ascension EIS Fund will enter pre-Series A funding stage in a UK based startup, which is building products and services relevant for the Indian market. The investment teams will be based in Ascension’s London office and Unicorn India’s offices in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. This is being done to offer a genuine cross border exposure and business development support to investee companies.

Nina Amin, MBE will be the Chair of the investment committee of the Fund. Nina has three decades of experience in financial services in the UK. In her last stint, she was Partner and Head of Asian markets with KPMG UK. Currently, she is consulting with KPMG UK and a non-executive Director and Chair of Audit Committee at Koovs, an AIM listed e-commerce company with operations in India.

Nina Amin, Chairperson, Investment Committee, Unicorn Ascension EIS Fund says, “UAF is the first cross border technology fund focusing on the UK-India corridor. The fund will unlock significant synergies between the high-tech products and services emerging out of the UK and the numerous opportunities arising because of the significant digitization that is underway in India.”

The Fund is aiming to invest anywhere between £1m – £3m at the pre-Series A stage. UAF will co-invest approximately a third of the round, alongside leading angels and VCs across 6-8 deals a year. The Fund will be open for Subscription in June 2018 and UAF expects to raise up to £2 million by July 2018, with several investors already lined up. It is expected that UAF will start deploying investments by September 2018.

Bhaskar Majumdar, Partner Unicorn Ascension EIS Fund says, “It is encouraging to see that companies from the UK have already started venturing into the Indian market. Companies like Falcon Media have successfully launched their products and others like Deliveroo have expressed their intent of entering too. Our team has already identified compelling investment opportunities through proprietary networks that have been developed after years of experience.”

UAF brings together these two VCs that are based in both target markets of the Fund, to leverage the strengths of both these markets, along with recent announcements from the UK Government for a new UK-India Tech Partnership, to build a strong portfolio of companies established in the UK with the ability to expand into India. On the one hand, the Indian economy is undergoing transformational digitisation of the economy, and on the other hand, the UK boasts several world-class tech products that can offer solutions to the key pillars of this digitisation. The vision for UAF is to be the investor of choice for UK based Seed+ tech companies, and their investors, looking to expand into India.

Ascension Ventures is a UK based venture capital company, which launched the UK’s first SEIS Fund in 2012. It has invested in 70+ UK based early stage technology and digital businesses across 10 funds and has £22m+ under management. Ascension has participated in the Seed & Seed+ rounds of some of the UK’s most recognised tech companies, alongside some of the country’s best-known angels and VCs. Its portfolio includes Vidsy, Hazy AI, Moteefe, Blokur, Mutt, A Million Ads and GiveVision, amongst others.

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