Kauffman Fellowship chief visits Wales

The head of the Kauffman Fellows Program, an international initiative to identify and develop emerging global leaders in venture capital, has met with key figures involved in supporting and investing in early stage, technology-based businesses in Wales.

Phil Wickham, CEO of the California-based Center for Venture Education which runs the Kauffman Fellows Program, said the support and investment network in Wales provided a solid foundation for the early stage ecosystem. His visit, led by Jocelyn Brown, the current Kauffman Fellow assigned to Finance Wales as an Associate, included meetings with management from Ocelus Ltd and Altech Software Ltd, which are two Finance Wales investee companies. He also met David Jones, a xénos business angel and Professor David Brooksbank of UWIC, the academic research supervisor for the Finance Wales Kauffman Programme.

Brown is just one of 25 to 30 Kauffman Fellows taken on each year throughout the world. Working full-time at a venture capital company, each Kauffman Fellow engages in a practical, 24 month apprenticeship, including professional coaching, mentoring by senior partners, and quarterly sessions of industry and leadership curriculum in California. As members of the Society of Kauffman Fellows throughout their careers, fellows join a trusted network across five continents, linking together 500 individuals at 180 investing firms who are actively deploying $40 billion (USD) in venture capital.

Wickham said: “To have a professional, connected organisation like Finance Wales that supports your local entrepreneurs is a distinctive Welsh competitive advantage. The Kauffman Fellows Program is all about the Fellows and the firms that we recruit into our global Society. Jocelyn, Steve and the team at Finance Wales have been a coup for us, providing a vital link into a region that outside investors and their companies are going to want to work with going forward. Conversely, the global needs of Welsh entrepreneurs to reach new resources and markets are in very good hands with Finance Wales.”

Steve Smith, head of early stage investments at Finance Wales, said early stage companies provided investors with an opportunity to invest in businesses with significant growth potential and return on investment. “We are actively investing in IP rich, early stage businesses as part of an ambitious investment strategy. Our portfolio is growing through the expertise of our early stage team in identifying new investment opportunities and our close working relationship with universities and successful co-investors, such as Fusion IP at Cardiff University. Our relationship with the Kauffman Fellowship programme has added further value to this strategy, enabling us to identify and foster strong relationships with the VC, university and business support communities.”

Brown said the combination of working at Finance Wales and the Kauffman Fellows programme allowed her to develop her expertise in early stage VC investment. “I feel privileged to have been placed within such a dynamic and progressive investment house as Finance Wales through the Kauffman Fellows Program. Finance Wales has helped me develop my experience of all aspects of a transaction from origination through to portfolio management, and it has been a joy to work within one of the most active early stage investors in the UK at present.”