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Invest Northern Ireland is putting £7.5m into a fund to help get early stage technology companies in Northern Ireland off the ground.

Crescent Capital has raised £22.5m in total for the new fund, called Crescent Capital II, which will invest in local hi-tech companies. Other investors include Queen's University, University of Ulster and the New York State Common Retirement Fund. Invest NI is a government-funded development agency.

The money will be invested in early stage technology companies. Previous beneficiaries have included life sciences and software companies.

Leslie Morrison, chief executive of Invest NI, said the fund would boost the VC market in Northern Ireland. He also said the fund would help fill "the historical gap in the availability of equity funding for the deal size range of £250,000 to £1.5m."

Jamille Jinnah, managing director of placement agents Almeida Capital, said: "This could be good news for Northern Ireland but the success of similar quasi-government regional bodies has been varied." Jinnah said the difficulty was getting good enough investment professionals with specific industry rather than general investment skills.

Colin Walsh, managing director of Crescent Capital, told the Reg: "That's often a fair criticism but not in this case - I have been investing in early stage technology companies since 1989. I've seen firms go to IPO, and I've seen some go bankrupt."

Walsh said some government-funded VC funds are criticised for investing in social enterprises. Crescent Capital II won't suffer this fate because the government has no role in actual investment decisions.

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