High-growth tech VC funder Sure Valley Ventures has launched a presence in the North of England.

The company has appointed Mel Ellyard and George Mensah – based in Leeds and Manchester respectively – as it seeks to ‘rebalance regional disparities in VC funding’, with plans to invest in 25 tech startups.

It is focused on immersive technologies, Web3, the metaverse, artificial intelligence, IoT, InfoSec and cybersecurity.

Sure Valley Ventures is securing offices in each location which are due to open in the coming months.

The expansion follows the recent announcement of the £95 million UK software technology fund, which included a £50m investment from the British Business Bank through its Enterprise Capital Funds (ECF) programme, which aims to increase the supply of equity capital to high-potential, early-stage UK companies.

Ellyard has a significant network spanning key Northern ecosystems including Yorkshire, Humber, Tees Valley, North East and Greater Manchester. Prior to joining Sure Valley Ventures, she worked with the British Business Bank supporting UK Network & Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund. 

Over the past 25 years she has secured extensive experience of building relationships with key regional stakeholders to support innovation, deal flow, access to finance, and SME growth in the Northern regions, in the banking & finance, technology and life sciences sectors. 

Her previous roles include COO of a startup BioTech company – with a focus on fundraising – and CEO of Capital Enterprise North, where she promoted funding opportunities between investors and high-growth tech companies. 

She also has experience of working with blue-chip organisations such as Grant Thornton, Financial Times, Thomson Reuters and HSBC.

‘We scaled from 20 to 350 people in 2.5 years’

Mensah has nearly a decade of experience in the capital markets, focusing predominantly on high-growth companies. Prior to Sure Valley Ventures, he was an investment manager at ACF Investors, an early-stage VC which co-invests alongside domain expert-led syndicates of angel investors. 

This saw him work on a number of B2B SaaS investments at the firm, where he also played an active role in portfolio management with early stage companies.

He started his investment career at Shore Capital as an equity research analyst, with a sector focus in online retail and eCommerce as well as helping companies IPO. He has also held roles at family office Growth Partner LLP and US-based investment firm Aegis Capital Corp.

“We are delighted to mark our expansion into the North of England with the appointment of two highly experienced principals in Mel and George,” said managing partner and co-founder Barry Downes. 

“We are focused on challenging the regional disparities across the UK in terms of availability of startup funding and their extensive network across the tech communities in this fast-growing tech region make them the ideal candidates to execute on this mission.”

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