Father Ted, Perspective And Portfolio Positives

“Ok. One last time, Dougal” says Father Ted to his TV side-kick Father Dougal. In a small caravan on Craggy Island, Ted is holding some miniature plastic cows while pointing through the window to the real much larger versions grazing in the adjacent fields . “These are SMALL. But the other ones out there are FAR AWAY….. small…. far away” repeated Ted in yet another failed attempt to teach perspective to a confused Dougal. “Ah, forget it!!” says a defeated Ted. Great comedy, but in real life that sort of capitulation can be both dangerous and costly. The confusing aftermath of the horrific carnage at the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza was a reminder of the increasing dangers of deep-fake imagery, misinformation campaigns and client-journalism in fighting to establish ‘a truth’. We just can’t give up on The Truth. Perspective and reflection does help. So, in a world dominated by ugly headlines and woeful weather let’s visit a few big investment themes growing real legs. Where better to start than security…far away

The heads of cybersecurity from the UK, Australia, the US, Canada and New Zealand, known collectively as the “Five Eyes” security alliance, have seen “a sharp rise in aggressive attempts by other states to steal competitive advantage”. In particular, they urged smaller companies and startups to be more vigilant in protecting their IP and critical business information. Having recently raised funds for Binarii Labs, we are very much aware of the increasing demand to protect data rooms for corporate finance deals, cloud storage architecture, legal files and personal ID information from being breached. The good news for Binarii shareholders is that the cybersecurity theme continues to attract VC funding. In New York fraud prevention play, Prove Identity, secured $40m from MassMutual Ventures and Capital One Ventures. Also, despite its name, Fingerprint, has built a big reputation in detecting fraudulent devices rather than human beings. The Chicago-based company has attracted $77m of investment since its 2010 inception and completed a $33 million Series C funding round this week with Nexus Venture Partners as lead. Cybersecurity feels like a portfolio “keeper”. But, as always we advise diversification of risk in a portfolio for the health of your wealth. And, for health too…

Well, for those who have invested in AuriGen Medical then you know we like healthcare technology on lots of levels. The good news is that we have a few more medical and biotech investment opportunities to add to your startup portfolio before the end of the year. Even Bloomberg is picking up on the super medtech ecosystem which has emerged in the west of Ireland. The recent arrival and $327 million investment by medtech Dexcom in Athenry might have been the prompt for the Bloomberg article and some great data featured. However, this has been a steady build in the shadow of the higher profile Big Tech “Silicon Docks” cluster in Dublin. Now, medtech and biopharma are experiencing that virtuous circle of investment, deep-tech expertise, spin- off activity, entrepreneurship and innovation. The inspiration for this flow of healthcare startups is a multinational backbone of 14 of the world’s 15 leading medtech companies and 10 of the leading global biopharma companies. Clearly, your wealth could also be your health…..or your pet’s health.

I have always listened carefully to the UK’s best performing fund manager of the past decade, Terry Smith. Having worked for him, and embraced his investment philosophy of observing the cash flow returns on all of the capital in a business(debt, leases/commitments and equity), I know he likes high frequency consumer product businesses – think Coca Cola, Nestle, Unilever etc. Then know that he LOVES pet food and pet health producers! He would often quote some bonkers survey that consumers would sooner feed their pets than their children. The key point is that the spend on pets is enormous and consistent. In the UK alone £10 billion is spent annually on dogs. Dubliner-founded Butternut Box recently announced a £280 million funding round with venture giant, General Atlantic, as lead. That business is valued at over $500 million now, but at the other end of the pet healthcare spectrum, Spark is raising money for a vet-designed and managed platform to match reputable breeders with properly vetted owners. Pet healthcare is the mission and Pet Bond is currently offering equity at a significant discount. It’s also eligible for a further 40% valuation discount via its EIIS tax rebate eligibility for private investors. So, that’s a lot of health covered but what about the planet’s health

We have written plenty on the cleantech theme but it’s highly likely there will a few portfolio investment opportunities coming Spark investors’ way very soon. To whet your appetite and apply perspective, know the following:


  • European VC market sentiment is at a record low. However, the drive to save the planet doesn’t do sentiment. It’s all about action. So check out the Q3 European VC funding activity. A whopping $4.5 billion, or 25% of total tech investment, went to green technologies in Q3.


  • Aira, the latest startup from Northvolt and H2 Green Steel founder, Harold Mix, has just raised €87 million for its heat pump business.


Of course, early stage investment is higher risk but we do need to keep an eye on those themes which are enjoying healthy investment flows. Then again, there is no such thing as a sure thing. Or…. risk free. As a final reflection, for the sceptical and the risk averse out there, who would like to guess the fall from peak value for Bitcoin compared to that of ‘risk free’ US Treasury bonds guaranteed by the mighty US Government? Who got close to a 51% dive for Bitcoin? Probably a lot of you. But did you get anywhere near US Treasuries cratering by 47% from their all-time highs!!! Probably not. It’s all about perspective really. And, keep watching those healthy portfolios.


  • For details on the Spark EIIS Private Portfolio product DM direct or call your Spark relationship manager.
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