The Howard Capital side of our business plays a vital, and growing, role within the Howard Group business, alongside our property ventures. As a long-term, patient and responsible investment partner, we provide growth capital funding, strategic and management support to companies seeking purposeful solutions to key social, technological, environmental or humanitarian challenges. We pursue an investment strategy that evaluates each opportunity through an equally focused social, environmental and financial lens. This approach is intrinsically aligned with our centenary vision, which unites the three strands of our purpose - people, planet and performance - and is a demonstration of our commitment to ensure we approach all our business decisions, practices and behaviours with these three strands in mind.
A socially and environmentally conscious portfolio
We have invested or committed over £6m of funding to early-stage businesses either directly, or indirectly via private equity funds and angel networks where we feel there is alignment across approach and values.
One such fund is managed by Eka Ventures, to which we have committed £1m. We chose to work with Eka because of the powerful connection between our desire to see positive social and environmental impact and their focus on working with and investing in founders who are building category-defining consumer technology companies that positively shape the world, making it more sustainable, healthy and inclusive. Companies like:
Sustained: A data platform that enables consumers to quantify and compare the social and environmental impact of products.
Paired: A digital platform designed to improve relationship health.
Hived: An E-comm parcel delivery company building a zero-emission, low cost but high quality service.
By continuing to invest and support this fund we know that our capital is helping to deliver real change to our economy, society and planet. These companies are at the forefront of driving more sustainable consumption that is better for the planet, through the initiation of a more proactive and preventative consumer-led healthcare system that is better for people; and an inclusive economy where data is used to better understand customer’s individual needs so that essential products are more affordable and accessible.
Balancing the people, planet and performance strands of our centenary vision is central to our decision-making process when choosing the enterprises we want to invest in and partner with directly. Alongside many of the more obvious commercially oriented considerations, we also ask the following questions:
Over time, this investment philosophy has shaped a diverse direct investment portfolio which includes ground-breaking companies with high social and environmental impact solutions such as:
Mom Incubators: James Roberts and his team are building an affordable, compact, and lightweight infant incubator offering a safe thermoregulated environment for newborns to thrive in. It is being deployed in remote and rural care settings, intrahospital transport and first admission to transitional care around the world, including in Ukraine.
Virtue Health: Shane Lowe and the team at Virtue Health are a fast moving start up, passionate about bringing quantitative measurement technology to musculoskeletal healthcare to improve the lives of millions. They are developing quick and easy technology driven assessment solutions to measure and improve factors such as wellbeing at your desk and risk of burnout.
NoBacz Healthcare: A wound care company specialising in sustainable, rapid-setting liquid barrier dressings. Dr Jonathan Powell leads a team developing and delivering a novel, patent-protected solution that addresses the wasteful, unsustainable and time-consuming issues prevalent with veterinary and human wound care.
Koaala: Nate Macabuag and team have developed a range of soft and slip-on-and-go, upper limb prosthetics with interchangeable tools for children and adults. They provide people worldwide with affordable and comfortable prostheses that are easy to use and a community they can connect and share with.
Part of our investment commitment in these exciting businesses is to establish enduring relationships with the teams behind them, that run deeper than purely providing capital. We are always keen to promote and raise awareness over what they do and help facilitate connections into our wider networks, particularly given our established roots and presence in the Cambridge community.
The overlap between Howard Capital and our Property ventures
Building relationships with early-stage companies in which we are invested has given us an insight into their real estate requirements. We have applied this knowledge to deliver lab and office space that provides the facilities and community companies need to thrive. Unity Campus, our new urban innovation district in the heart of the Cambridge cluster, is an example of this. One of the companies at Unity Campus is Phoremost, which is developing a pipeline of first-in-class targets in oncology and targeted protein degradation. They have partnered with the Cambridge-based Venture Capital firm Amadeus Capital Partners, who manage one of the funds in which we are invested.
As we look ahead to our centenary in 2035, we remain committed to investing in this way as a core component of delivering our purpose of ‘improving and enriching lives’.