With origins in technology investing, our broad and growing fund management activities now encompass investing in the private equity and infrastructure sectors in the UK, USA, Southern Europe and Australia.
Founded in 1984 by the present Chairman, Bernard Fairman, and fellow partner Peter English, who raised a £20 million venture capital fund sponsored by Robert Fleming. The fund invested in unquoted technology companies in the UK, Europe and USA and ultimately distributed a 4x cash return to investors. Building on this success, in 1997 we raised and launched one of the first Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs), which as Foresight VCT plc still remains one of the best performing VCTs ever launched. We have since raised several more VCTs and taken over the management of others and are now one of the largest VCT managers in the UK, managing c. £300 million through four VCTs. These funds invest in a broad range of sectors and transaction types and include some of the best performing of their respective vintages.
In the past few years, we have pursued a strategy of supporting regional investment across the UK and have raised regional institutional funds which we manage out of our UK offices in Nottingham and Manchester, targeting SMEs within the respective regions, promoting growth, innovation and productivity.
Having recognised the investment potential in the renewable energy and recycling sectors at an early stage, we monitored developments and in 2006 started investing in the waste to energy sector in the UK. With growing support from UK and European legislation and increasing public awareness, we have since raised a number of funds dedicated to the bioenergy and waste sectors.
With growing knowledge and experience of the renewable energy sector, we made our first investments into solar infrastructure in Southern Europe in 2009. The European solar markets have since grown rapidly and we swiftly established an office in Rome through which a number of joint ventures and managed accounts have been established with major European institutional investors to develop new and acquire existing solar plants in southern Europe. Since 2011, we have been at the forefront of solar investment in the UK, having successfully raised some £543 million through Foresight Solar VCT, Foresight Solar EIS funds 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 and the successful IPO and subsequent placing programmes of Foresight Solar Fund Limited for investment in UK solar infrastructure.
We are actively pursuing investment opportunities in renewable energy generation and enabling technologies such as storage and flexible generation, and in investing in energy management projects including the commercial and residential roll out of smart meters across the UK and providing energy efficiency solutions to industrial clients.