Venture capital can be a stimulating, challenging career, but it’s not exactly easy to find a way in unless you move in the right circles for long enough. Campus Capital is a new VC firm that hopes to change that by working in partnership with universities across the UK.
Students will get the opportunity to try their hand at the VC business, working with professionals to invest in local startups. It’s a model that has worked well in the US, with firms like Rough Draft Ventures and DormRoomFund seeing encouraging results.
Sheffield-based Campus Capital is raising a £2 million fund to start with and is kicking off its activities in its home city. A partnership with the University of Sheffield has attracted interest from 87 students. In spring 2017, the firm will begin an educational programme to train these students in how VC works. After that, the students will start sourcing deals.
Although there were many applications from students on finance and business courses – often assumed to be good starting points for a VC career – the firm has seen the strongest interest from engineering students. VCs can feasibly come from anywhere though, so it’s encouraging to see students from backgrounds as diverse as psychology and architecture have signed up.
The tech funding gap in the North of England has led to some inventive solutions springing up recently. For example, PlusNet co-founder Lee Strafford’s new Accelerated Digital Ventures investment vehicle has been attracting interest thanks to its unusual approach (we’ll have more on that later this week).
What’s interesting about Campus Capital is that it’s not only going to fund startups, it’s also going to develop a new breed of young people who either become professional tech investors or at least bring an understanding of VC into whatever they do with their careers. This has the potential to strengthen the North’s technology sector for years to come.
The firm has been launched by two people with a reputation for really caring about the tech ecosystem. Michael Howe was founder of Sheffield-based artificial intelligence firm Otus Labs, while Samantha Deakin Hill previously ran a digital agency and now works with startups at the University of Sheffield.
Beyond Sheffield, Campus Capital plans to expand its offering to other Northern universities and eventually nationwide. Tech North is an official supporter of the project and we look forward to seeing what deals its student VCs get into.
Image: Campus Capital’s Michael Howe and Samantha Deakin Hill. Credit: Tim Dobson
This article was updated on 19 December 2016 to clarify that Campus Capital’s funding round is still open.