British Business Bank, Diversity VC and BVCA announce new initiative to examine diversity in Venture Capital industry

Press release 23 May 2018

  • Ten VC firms so far signed up to provide anonymous data
  • Project follows recommendation from last year’s Patient Capital Review
  • Initiative will report in Autumn 2018

Three organisations are joining forces to run an industry-wide initiative which will build the first clear picture of the representation of women – and diversity more broadly – in the pipelines of UK venture capital firms, and how this corresponds to the deals that get done.

The British Business Bank – the UK’s economic development bank – Diversity VC, a non-profit organisation focused on increasing representation in venture capital and the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA) are collaborating on the initiative.

As an independent organisation, the British Business Bank will provide a way for the VC industry to share diversity data anonymously, helping to build a common understanding of the state of play that the industry can use to identify issues and develop solutions.

From today, all UK VC firms are invited to participate. Ten firms have already agreed to take part and contribute their data:

  • Amadeus Capital
  • Atomico
  • Balderton Capital
  • Draper Esprit
  • Frog Capital
  • Frontline Ventures
  • LocalGlobe
  • Notion Capital
  • Oxford Capital Partners
  • Scottish Equity Partners

Venture capitalists and investors around the world acknowledge that the industry needs to address underlying issues with respect to gender and diversity. US data shows that, in 2017, 2% of all VC funding went to companies started solely by women, and the figure is only 17% for companies with at least one female founder.

Initial British Business Bank analysis suggests the picture is very similar in the UK, but the pipeline data from within the VCs themselves is needed to answer the key questions and identify where the biggest issues are in the operation of VC markets in the UK.

As part of the Patient Capital Review, HM Treasury asked the British Business Bank to research the issues faced by female founders when they seek VC and to contribute to the development of credible solutions. In 2017 Diversity VC and BVCA published findings on VC investors, showing that women are underrepresented in UK VC: 27% of the VC labour force are women, and only 13% of decision makers are women.

It’s difficult for the industry to make progress without the data to understand where the problems lie. This initiative gives VCs a way to share their insights without compromising their proprietary methods Alice Hu-Wagner British Business Bank’s Head of Strategy, Economics & Business Development
The British Business Bank is ideally placed to help the industry address these challenges, given our impartiality, knowledge and experience. We are asking fund managers to step forward, contributing their focus and data to help facilitate this industry-wide effort. Keith Morgan British Business Bank CEO
Currently, the low levels of VC funding to female founders represent untapped potential. I believe that addressing the issues women face in getting such growth finance will present exciting new investment opportunities for the VC industry. Catherine Lewis La Torre British Business Investments (the commercial arm of the British Business Bank) CEO
It is comparatively easy to take the total number of companies that have raised money, and to count the number of founders from diverse backgrounds. It is extremely difficult to know the ‘hidden’ number that comes before: those that have attempted to raise funding from venture capitalists. The ambition of this project is to shine a light on this previously secret process. We need venture capitalists to step up to the plate and share their data anonymously, to help make their industry a fairer place Check Warner Diversity VC CEO
The BVCA is very supportive of this research and encourages all venture capital firms to participate to maximise its value to the industry. The British Business Bank is ideally placed to carry out this study and its findings will offer unique insights that will benefit both female founders and venture capital investors alike. Gurpreet Manku BVCA Deputy Director General and Director of Policy

The British Business Bank, Diversity VC and BVCA are asking UK VC funds to register their interest in this important initiative as soon as possible.

Those that would like to participate should contact Nick Shuttleworth at [email protected]. Further information is available at

Over June and July, the British Business Bank will work closely with individual VCs to collect their anonymous data. A report of the findings will be published in Autumn 2018.

Further Information

Notes to editors

About the British Business Bank

The British Business Bank is the UK’s national economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity. Our remit is to design, deliver and efficiently manage UK-wide smaller business access to finance programmes for the UK government.

The British Business Bank is currently supporting over £4bn of finance to more than 65,000 smaller businesses, and participating in a further £6.6bn of finance to mid-cap businesses (as at September 2017).

As well as increasing both supply and diversity of finance for UK smaller businesses through its programmes, the Bank works to raise awareness of the finance options, available to smaller businesses. 

More information, including a legal structure chart for British Business Bank plc and its subsidiaries, can be found on the British Business Bank website.

As the holding company of the group operating under the trading name of British Business Bank, it is a development bank wholly owned by HM Government which is not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The British Business Bank operates under its own brand name through a number of subsidiaries, one of which is authorised and regulated by the FCA.

About Diversity VC

Diversity VC is a non-profit organisation focused on creating a fairer and more diverse venture capital industry. Diversity VC focuses on four key initiatives: Network, we are building a network of VC professionals; Pathway, we work with universities and young people to help firms hire from more diverse backgrounds; Ecosystem, we are working with the current crop of venture capitalists to increase understanding of representation in the industry; and Data, we produce original research that aims to provide a better understanding of the status quo, and how to improve it. The organisation was founded by five industry professionals in 2017.

About BVCA

The British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (BVCA) is the industry body for UK private equity and venture capital. The BVCA has over 700 member firms, including more than 400 fund managers and institutional investors.