Blog 17 Jul 2023 

Our CPI Enterprises value creation process

What is CPI Enterprises? How does it enable deep tech innovation with investment and venture capital engagement? Learn more about our work and process.

Ian Smith

Ian Smith

Head of Investor Partnerships, Enterprises

Unlocking deep tech innovation with investment and venture capital engagement.

How CPI Enterprises works

CPI Enterprises, the venture capital and private investor engagement arm of CPI is a value-add investor. By leveraging CPI’s world-class technical expertise, facilities and strong innovation network, we’re able to stimulate impactful investment into early-stage deep tech companies. 

In doing this, we help companies scale more quickly, speeding up the process from innovation to commercialisation, thus enabling the success of deep tech innovations that benefit people, places, and our planet. 

CPI was founded in 2004, initially to support the growth and development of advanced manufacturing in the UK by translating research from academia through technology readiness levels to commercial feasibility – also known as bridging the valley of death’. In 2019, after seeing an opportunity to invest in those businesses that were coming through the pipeline, CPI Enterprises was born. 

The distinguishing factor between CPI Enterprises and other value-add investors within the innovation ecosystem is our strategic alignment and integration with CPI. Whilst we are separate entities, we share the same values, strategic focus, mission and vision. As a result of our alignment and integration, we have unfettered access to the world-class expertise and experience held by CPI’s 600+ highly skilled technologists, innovation experts and radical thinkers. 

The benefits of this are numerous: 

  • Companies working with CPI can drastically reduce their capital expenditure across all areas of the development process. 
  • By accessing world-class facilities and expertise that would otherwise be out of reach, start-ups and early-stage businesses are able to scale up and reach commercialisation much quicker. 
  • Use of CPI’s expertise throughout our investment processes to de-risk investments into early-stage deep-tech businesses. 

How the process works

CPI Enterprises’ investments are strategically aligned with CPI’s five market pillars: AgriFoodTech, Energy Storage, HealthTech, Materials and Pharma. The breadth and depth of expertise accessible to us – through our incredible people at CPI – within each of these markets provide an additional level of technical insight and therefore increased confidence in the quality of potential investment opportunities that are referred to CPI Enterprises. 

Following these referrals of high-potential, early-stage, deep tech companies, our well-established and robust investment process begins with a meeting between the company and our experienced CPI Enterprises investment team. We conduct further technical and financial model reviews, which enables the best investment opportunities to be presented to our Investment Committee. After this, we can move to the execution phase, where we complete a more detailed commercial, financial, legal and technical due diligence process. 

Due to the nature and criteria of our investments, our portfolio companies have existing relationships with CPI. This enables access to a qualified deal flow’ and allows us to understand how the team works, what the company culture is like, what makes the founders tick, and ultimately, the feasibility of their technologies. This type of qualitative information can be incredibly valuable when making investment decisions.

What we bring to the table

At CPI Enterprises, we can lead, cornerstone or co-invest in investment rounds dependent upon the requirements of an opportunity. 

Through our value-add offering, co-investment is often an attractive prospect for our potential investment partners. CPI’s technical know-how and our ability to do thorough technical research and due diligence can provide assurances about the viability of potential investments and help to mitigate potential technical risks. 

Working with a globally recognised technology innovation catalyst like CPI also lends credibility to the companies we support when they are seeking further investment or scaling through to exit. The work completed with CPI can provide a stamp of approval associated with their technological and commercial development, as well as the financial backing of CPI Enterprises. 

Additionally, our senior investment team has substantial experience in making equity and debt investments in early-stage SMEs. We have 150 years of combined experience, with 40 years in venture capital alone. We also maintain and grow a strong network of investors, including high-net-worth individuals, angel investors, institutional investors and other co-investment partners, plus innovation assets, including our partners within the Catapult network. 

Our team sits on the board of several of our active portfolio companies and are in regular contact with their management teams to ensure that our support is fully utilised. This allows us to be close to the strategic decision-making and communicate effectively to support the acceleration of their product development roadmap. 

Our journey so far

Since CPI Enterprises became fully operational over 3 years ago, we’re now well recognised in the early-stage deep tech innovation ecosystem. Through the skill and knowledge of our management team and innovation enablers, we’ve grown our operations to encompass three core areas: direct investment, funding support, and investor engagement. All these elements are integral in our model to create value for early-stage deep tech companies and continue to guide our growth and expansion. 

To-date, we’ve made ten investments with one successful exit after the company scaled through to IPO (Initial Public Offering), yielding a 14.3x multiple on money return for CPI Enterprises. Our active portfolio spans multiple sectors and stages of development, but all have one thing in common – a relationship with CPI and the support of CPI Enterprises to enable their journey. 

Our portfolio includes but is not limited to, Qualus, a cleantech start-up revolutionising the sustainability of leather production; BiologIC Technologies, an early-stage business aiming to transform biomanufacturing with the world’s first biocomputer; Descycle, a deep tech disruptor leveraging the $63 billion e‑waste industry to extract and re-purpose precious metals in an environmentally-friendly way; and Qkine, a developer of animal-free growth factors for applications in stem cell therapy, regenerative medicine and cellular agriculture. 

For incredible early-stage deep tech companies such as these, CPI Enterprises can be seen as a safe pair of hands whose support extends further than simply funding, with introductions to potential co-investors, and access to world-class innovation and R&D facilities and a vast pool of expertise across both commercial and technical areas. 

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