Envestors Meets McLaren

In May, a group of F1 and motorcar enthusiasts from within Envestors’Platinum Club spent the day at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, courtesy of McLaren and, in particular, George Farquar, VIP and affinity relations manager.

The group was treated to an in-depth telling of the impressive history of McLaren and had the chance to sit in the 570 GT (pictured below) before being stunned by the new 720 S (pictured), launched earlier this year. A guided tour of the centre was peppered with anecdotes from McLaren’s storied history, and showed how the business has evolved. From the first car that Bruce McLaren built and raced, aged 15, to the limited edition Super Series P1, there is almost a car for every year McLaren has been operating. The story is one of impressive innovation, swift progression and disruption to the market, and McLaren emerges as a truly iconic and fiercely British brand.

The tour ended with a view from the gallery of the McLaren Production Centre, where the cars are built in a spotless and mainly manually operated, spectacularly organised production line. The lack of automation was notable and somehow added to the feeling that we were spying on the future.

Following a delicious lunch in the Ayrton Senna suite, our guests departed suitably impressed and, in many cases, convinced that a British-made McLaren must take up a place in their automotive collection. But which model? Mine’s a 720 S Spider please!

If you would like to know more about McLaren and are interested in test driving one of their models, or taking part in one of their exclusive driving experiences, please get in touch with Jessica.wilson@envestors.co.uk and she will connect you with George at McLaren.

POLAR charging network to be powered with 100% renewable electricity

  • UK’s largest electric vehicle charging network switches to 100% renewable energy
  • Electric drivers benefit from a reduced emissions footprint from POLAR charging points
  • Cost of POLAR network membership remains the same with no price increase

 The UK’s largest electric vehicle (EV) charging network, POLAR, which includes Charge Your Car sites, is switching to 100% renewable electricity from 1st August.

The electricity consumption of the POLAR network, operated by Chargemaster, will be certified and matched to energy generated from renewable sources; meaning every mile driven by EVs charging on the POLAR network will be matched by renewable energy.

Chargemaster, the UK’s largest provider of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, provides over 40,000 EV drivers with access to more than 5,600 public charging points in the UK across the POLAR and Charge Your Car networks. Combined, they represent more than 40% of all the charging points in the UK and, in the first half of 2017 supplied vehicles with more than 500,000 kWh of electricity.

The POLAR network is growing significantly, with Chargemaster installing more than 250 of its UK-manufactured Ultracharge rapid chargers this year. POLAR plus membership, which provides unlimited access to charging points in the network (over 85% of which are free to use) costs just £7.85 per month and will not increase with the switch to renewable energy. In addition, new members benefit from free membership for the first three months.

Electric vehicles already reduce local air pollution, as pure electric vehicles, and plug-in hybrid and range-extender models running in electric mode, produce no tailpipe emissions.

Even when charged with electricity from the National Grid, the emissions footprint of electric motoring is still lower than the average new car in the UK. However, this benefit is increased if electric vehicles are charged using renewable energy, which ensures that electric motorists are truly ‘zero emission’, with no fossil fuel-generated electricity used when charging.

David Martell, Chief Executive of Chargemaster said, “Switching POLAR, the UK’s largest EV charging network, to renewable energy is great news for EV drivers in the UK. It reduces the overall emissions of electric motoring, removing the upstream footprint of electricity generation in the same way as drivers have eliminated their tailpipe emissions.”

If you would like to register to invest or to raise finance with Envestors, please do so here.

Envestors China/UK Investment Technology Fund

We are delighted to announce the launch of the Envestors UK/China Investment Technology Fund: Selecting the best UK technology companies with relevance to the China market for the benefit of China.

INVESTMENT CRITERIA: We will be selecting the best UK technology companies through our extensive network in London, Cambridge, Oxford, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool. The Fund will focus upon high growth UK technology companies which have relevance for the China market for the benefit of China.

INVESTMENT COMMITTEE: The Investment Committee is led by a highly experienced fund management team led by Modwenna Rees Mogg and will comprise investors from China and the UK.

INVESTMENT STRUCTURE: This is an opportunity for UK and Chinese investors to invest together. The size of the Fund is CNY \ 1 billion (Åí114m)

MORE INFORMATION: If interested in a prospectus, please contact Scott Haughton  Co-Founder and COO Envestors Limited with an expression of interest to be involved in the UK/China Investment Fund, by 30th September 2017.

Contact: Scott Haughton

scott@envestors.co.uk

+44 (0)20 7240 0202

wechat: scott_from_london

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Globalisation Under Fire – Smith & Williamson

First Brexit, then Trump and now the prospect of pro-nationalist parties gaining influence across Europe – globalisation is under fire across the western world.

Against the backdrop of a more challenging and unbalanced global economic environment and with people and businesses everywhere facing greater uncertainty, free trade has become an easy target for politicians and some sections of the media who blame globalisation for a widening gap between rich and poor.

The great debate

The rise of the populist, protectionist agenda is just the latest reaction to a global economic system that many believe still hasn’t recovered from the 2007/08 financial crisis. Western voters are trying to ‘take back control’ by electing governments that promise to put a stop to the perceived excesses of globalisation.

Yet in China and other emerging economies the appetite for globalisation and trade understandably remains strong, given the benefits these economies have enjoyed over the past few decades thanks to external demand for their cheap labour and goods. China’s rise has been fuelled by exports, so it was no surprise to hear President Xi Jinping at the World Economic Forum defending the ability of globalisation to lift people out of poverty in Davos.

New world order?

The impact of Brexit and Trump is still unfolding, but it’s clear that the established order of global trade will change. The rules, freedom and ease of trade with the EU are our immediate focus and businesses will have to adapt accordingly. But the benefits of trade are so strong for both parties that it seems implausible that the EU won’t continue to be the UK’s most important market, followed by the US, for many years to come. Even so, British businesses may need to rethink their focus.

Refocusing our exports

Once free of EU restraints on trade with the rest of the world, the UK will be able to negotiate new trading relationships. According to the Office for National Statistics, UK exports grew at a faster rate than total world export growth last year for the first time in over a decade, with businesses already increasing exports to non-EU countries.

UK exports to emerging markets are still much smaller than to the EU or US, but they’re already becoming more important, partly driven by the successful economic growth of these economies, their emerging middle classes and growing consumer spending.

The UK’s largest export sectors are machinery, transport and business and financial services, with services in general rapidly closing the gap on exports of goods. But there’s a world of opportunity out there for scale-ups across innumerable sectors and there are good reasons to believe that May’s vision of the UK as a hub for international trade may be realistic.

Building global trading relationships

In January, the government published its new industrial strategy green paper, which sets out how it will support businesses to develop in new sectors and increase exports. The paper calls for protectionism to be resisted and for global trade to remain free and open in order to support investment and exports – all integral to the UK’s industrial success.

The UK is the world’s fifth largest economy, with enviable businesses, scientific research and cultural prowess, enabling us to attract investment and talented individuals from around the world. China, Canada, India, Mexico, Singapore and South Korea have already said they want to discuss future trading relationships, and the Government has established working groups with key trade partners such as India and Australia.

‘Made in Britain’ still carries considerable kudos across the world and the UK’s long-established reputation for high standards, quality of workmanship, creativity and, increasingly, our technological know-how can give exporters a head start in new markets.

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Smith & Williamson LLP

Regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales for a range of investment business activities. A member of Nexia International.

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RENEWABLES: ARE THEY WORTH THE RISK ?

Investing in renewables and clean tech is rewarding, in every sense of the word. The myth that the nice ethical glow you get from investing in green ventures is compensation for the reduced financial returns is being consigned to history as fast as coal is being forced from the UK’s energy mix.

JAMES MURRAY Editor-in-chief of BusinessGreen

Renewables and associated low carbon technologies, such as smart grid systems, energy storage, electric and fuel cell vehicles, and energy efficiency innovations, are now at the heart of global multi-billion dollar industries.

Recent statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed the UK’s Low Carbon and Renewable Energy Economy was worth over £43bn in 2015, employing 234,000 people and generating exports of £4.11bn.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Analyst firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reported recently that plummeting wind and solar costs meant renewables accounted for more than half all new power generation capacity globally last year as an estimated $241bn of investment was mobilised and a record 138.5GW of capacity was deployed.

Pilot projects all around the world are demonstrating how energy storage and smart grids mean renewables do not necessarily undermine a well-managed grid, even when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow.

Moreover, companies targeting these markets can expect significant policy support. The Paris Agreement means the whole world is signed up to curb their carbon emissions (that may change thanks to President Trump, but every other major market remains fully committed to decarbonisation).

Escalating health concerns over air pollution are similarly prompting politicians to aim supportive legislation at renewables and zero emission vehicles. In short, there are enormous opportunities for clean tech start-ups and investors able to target a market that is going to keep growing for decades.

So why would anyone shun this booming opportunity? Data for angel investors is hard to come by, but BNEF shows that in recent years venture capital and private equity investment in the sector has failed to match highs seen before 2010. If the prospects are good, why do many clean tech entrepreneurs find attracting early stage investors a slog?

The reality is clean tech firms struggle to deliver the quick-fire exit strategies you find in other technology markets. By definition these companies tend to be working in the field of hard engineering; projects are often capital intensive and patient capital is often essential.

Similarly, while the falling cost of clean technologies means exposure to policy risk is less acute than it once was, plenty of investors have been burnt by sudden cuts to subsidies or regulatory changes.

Last, the huge opportunities on offer mean competition are intense and casualties inevitable along the way. Playing in a market the world’s largest energy, engineering, and auto firms are targeting creates M&A exit opportunities, but it also results in high barriers to entry for disruptive innovators.

However, there are ways to overcome all these obstacles. Savvy green investors talk of being patient and accepting that exits can take longer than they would with your latest Web start-up. They also recommend focusing on firms that can build a business without recourse to long term subsidies and the political risk that comes with them. And they advise looking closely at the less glamorous parts of the clean tech sector that rarely command headlines: renewables component developer, grid technologies, light weighting of materials or energy efficiency innovations.

Investing in renewables and clean tech is not for everyone, but when you look at the scale of the market opportunity, not to mention that ethical buzz, the industry’s appeal is obvious. It’s often high risk, high reward – but aren’t all the best things in life?

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In an industry famed for requiring ‘patient capital’, entrepreneurs are finding new opportunities to break through in adjacent markets.

CLAIRE CURRY – Bloomberg New Energy Finance

In the past, innovation focused more on hardware, ‘real’ solutions that were often risky, had long development times, were prone to failure – and ahead of their time. They were putting forward solutions to problems that businesses and consumers weren’t really aware of – so the components of the supply chain needed to sustain many of these start-ups weren’t in place.

Scaling up in the past was also difficult: in the end, multinationals invariably did it better. If you wanted turbines, you’d have been more likely to go to Siemens or GE than a start-up, so fledgling businesses often had difficulty raising enough capital to expand.

Also, the focus on the consumer (via smart meters, for example) didn’t take off as expected.

Now, however, reduced costs have enabled start-ups to develop in secondary markets – ‘smart’ storage batteries at Germany’s Sonnen, for example.

Renewable power generation has become more established, and that has also opened up opportunities in adjacent markets beyond utilities. For example, there has been an explosion of interest in solar’s adjacent markets – say, for irrigation or street lighting.

There is also financial innovation in the cleantech sector. Take SunFunder: one of this year’s BNEF New Energy Pioneers. By aggregating diversified portfolios of investment opportunities in the off-grid solar sector, it unblocks a bottleneck for investors.

Other BNEF 2017 winners – We Care Solar’s remote maternity care, for example – indicate the potential gains for entrepreneurs willing to innovate in adjacent markets. Start-ups that can enhance efficiency of existing technologies are also promising, using AI to gather ‘wind intelligence’ for better predictive maintenance, or, like BNEF Pioneer RomoWind, using ultrasonic technology to improve turbine performance.

There are four marked trends influencing start-up activity:

  1. Automation – autonomous vehicles and AI-related developments will continue to offer start-ups opportunities to innovate in adjacent markets.
  2. Data management for efficiency gains – reducing down-time of wind turbines, for example, and integrating ‘boosters’ with legacy tech.
  3. Cleantech 2.0. We’ve most past the point of solving fundamental problems, such as how to generate electricity via wind. We’re now looking to address secondary problems and enhance existing technologies.
  4. Direct-to-consumer sales. There is potential to revisit consumer market – as Sonnen found with its home-battery product in 2016. The technology behind smart homes, once ahead of its time, is attracting new interest. Utilities have begun to get on board with consumer-focused developments.

M&A activity also suggests multinationals are looking for smaller, specialist business opportunities that will help them grow their share of growing cleantech markets. GE Ventures bought a stake in Sonnen in order to expand its share of the growing solar power-storage market. Total is actively expanding its renewables activity and recently bought French battery-maker Saft for 950m euros. Engie, meanwhile, took an 80 per cent stake in a US battery storage business Green Charge last May.

 

Sources: Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2017, UN Environment, the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance

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VOYAGES-SNCF.COM GROUP CONTINUES ITS INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION WITH THE ACQUISITION OF ENVESTORS PORTFOLIO COMPANY, LOCO2

Voyages-sncf.com Group, the France-based European e-travel business, has completed the acquisition of Loco2, the fast-growing UK- based online rail travel booking start-up for the UK and Europe.

The acquisition of Loco2, (loco2.com) is part of Voyages-sncf.com Group’s on-going growth strategy for the UK market and its wider European development, aimed to make the Group the leader in train distribution in Europe in 2020. Recognising their talent and their technological capabilities the Group has decided to invest in Loco2 in order to enable their genuine customer-centric approach to flourish and grow.

Loco2 will complement the existing activities of the Group contributing to its ‘Smart Tourism’strategy working alongside the other Group’s brands.

Like any tech startup, Loco2 needed financing, but unlike many of their peers, Loco2 has never taken venture capital or private equity investment. Instead, they’ve relied on a relatively small group of friends, family and angel investors, including members of the Envestors Private Investor Network who share their vision for European rail. The Voyages-SNCF.com transaction has delivered healthy returns to shareholders.

Franck Gervais, General Manager of Voyages-sncf.com Group, said:

“We are excited to welcome Loco2 and their great potential to the Group. Our aim is to accelerate our international growth and the investment in Loco2 brings new capabilities as part of our development and new projects for the UK and European markets. Through this investment we are offering Loco2 the perfect environment to further grow and enable Kate and Jamie Andrews, the two co-founders to continue writing their story.”

Kate Andrews, Co-founder of Loco2, comments:

“We’ve always seen the train operators and distributors as our allies, so we’re thrilled to partner with Voyages-sncf.com Group who share our passion for rail. Joining the Group puts Loco2 closer to the heart of European rail, and is the best way to supercharge Loco2 technology, while maintaining our obsession with customer satisfaction. We think that the combination of Voyages-sncf.com’s strong industry expertise and Loco2’s ambition to simplify rail booking will be a formidable force.”

 Scott Haughton, COO Envestors, comments:

“Since successfully introducing investment into Loco2 in 2013 from members of our Private Investment Network, we have been pleased to witness a solid track record of growth for the company, culminating in this transaction which has provided strong ROI for our members and clearly a very good outcome for the company and its founders, Kate and Jamie.”

 Voyages-sncf.com Group is a subsidiary of the French National Railway Company, SNCF and responsible for the online distribution of high-speed and conventional rail travel, through the Voyages-sncf.com brand in Europe and the Rail Europe brand in the rest of the world. An expert in European rail travel and destinations, the Group is recognised as a digital pioneer and leader in Smart Tourism. In 2016 the Group recorded a 3.5% increase in ticket sales, rising to 86 million tickets (up from 83 million tickets in 2015), with total sales reaching €4.1billion.

Loco2 is an online booking service for train travel in the UK and Europe. It sells tickets without booking fees through its website and via its smartphone apps which are available on iOS and Android platforms. Founded in 2012 by brother and sister Jamie and Kate Andrews, Loco2 reported sales of GBP £15.5 million in 2016, up 40% since 2015. Its rail search technology currently covers 37 rail operators – including SNCF, which was its first partner in 2012 – 25 countries and 20,000 stations.