Reviewing the year
Another year has flown by and while the backdrop remains challenging Octopus Ventures is still very much open for business. The themes we’ve seen playing out over the last few years continued and, in some cases, extended, in 2023. From escalating geopolitical tensions to the collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank, and the global economy’s continuing, painful recovery from the shutdowns of COVID, start-ups had to do more with less in a bearish market.
All that, plus the familiar grey rhinos of rising inequity, ageing populations (served by creaky healthcare systems) and, of course, the climate crisis. The year certainly threw up some global challenges.
But there’s reason to be cheerful – and not just because the holidays are finally here. The last quarter of 2023 has seen increased investment activity, and in the UK inflation is starting to ease. And while these global challenges may define our times and may also stand to define our future, they’re being met head-on. Pioneering founders are taking them for what they are: problems in need of solutions. And those solutions are being built.
At the heart of Octopus Ventures’ investment philosophy is a simple principle. We think entrepreneurs have the power to shape the future for the better – and we want to support them while they do it. It’s what we’ve done since we were founded – in the midst of the 2008 recession, incidentally.
It’s not just our portfolio we hope to help. This year we relaunched our website to make it easier for founders to access our insights and guides, to share our operational expertise with the pioneers we haven’t met yet. We’ve continued our series of deep tech breakfasts, bringing together stakeholders from across the ecosystem to explore what we can do, collectively, to ensure founders in the space have what they need to thrive.
Our reports have taken a granular look at the European healthtech landscape, tracking the changes we’ve seen over the last five years, and investigating what it takes to nurture spin-out success (as well as highlighting the UK universities enjoying the most).
The headline, then, is that while things are tough, the individuals who are going to solve the problems we face are out there, right now. We want to find them, and back them – from their very first cheque all the way through to IPO. Read on to hear from our investors about some of the amazing businesses we’ve welcomed to the Octopus Ventures portfolio this year. And if you think your mission resonates with ours – get in touch. You can pitch us here.
Saranyah Douse welcomes Fable Data
‘We first met Fable two years before backing them as their first institutional investor. We recognised a great alignment in values from the get-go, with their mission to improve the quality of data being used to make major decisions resonating deeply with the values we hold. Today, Fable is at the forefront of the alternative data market, leading the way in Europe and Asia.’
‘As a mission-led business, we deliver our metrics pro bono to central banks, finance ministries and academia to ensure that the managers of our global economies are in the best-possible position to drive economic opportunity for all. As a B Corp Octopus are equally committed to both our mission and our business success.’ – Luke Kennedy, CEO Fable Data
Chantal Cox welcomes Perci Health
‘Perci is acknowledging the truth that cancer survivors have long understood. Wraparound cancer services, that provide holistic support to survivors, have, until now, been hard to access, confined to word-of-mouth or the echo chambers of online patient forums.
Perci’s tech-enabled solution, recognising that ‘survivorship’ starts on day one of a cancer diagnosis, is a direct response to this need. It has the potential to improve millions of lives with its multidisciplinary, holistic and evidence-based care, improving clinical outcomes as it helps survivors navigate the ups and downs of their survivorship journeys. We’re proud to lend our support to Kelly, Morgan and the Perci team as they pursue this vital mission.’
‘OV was one of our dream investment partners. Even in the early days of our partnership with Octopus, we’re already seeing that they’re adding huge value over and above capital. They are plugging us into the best talent, connecting us with other founders within their portfolio who might be five years ahead of us and who’ve solved many of the problems that we’re solving for.’
– Kelly McCabe and Morgan Fitzsimmons co-founders of Perci.
Amy Nommeots-Nomm welcomes Puraffinity
‘The health of the planet ranks high amongst the issues we care about at Octopus Ventures, so we were overjoyed to be able to lend our support to Puraffinity. Their radical approach to materials technology holds the key to trapping the so-called ‘forever chemical,’ PFAS, and comes with an equally radical mission: to provide 1 billion people with PFAS safe water by 2030.
This year, we’ve been supporting our deep tech portfolio through our People + Talent team. We’ve developed and delivered management training to 150 employees across our deep tech portfolio, aiming to upskill founders and leaders across the teams with the tools they need to help their business grow. Feedback has been amazing, with CEO’s reporting fantastic development and increased confidence in their teams.’
‘This year we lent our support to Pencil Biosciences, whose revolutionary gene editing technology holds real promise in the treatment of rare diseases and cancer. Beyond capital, we’ve been supporting them through our network, making introductions to highly experienced operators in the space that have led to concrete talent-acquisition outcomes.
Jonathan Durnford-Smith, from the Octopus Ventures People + Talent team, has been lending his support in team structuring, hiring strategies and planning, and we’ve also supplied them with the templates and documents they need to formalise their corporate policies, from treasury to health-and-safety and anti-slavery.’