BGF, the UK & Ireland’s most active growth capital investor, has been named the most active institutional investor in women-led businesses for the second year running.

The accolade comes following the launch of the ScaleUp Institute’s annual Female Founders Index which shines a light on ‘visible’ scaleups in the UK which have at least one female founder.

Analysis by the ScaleUp Institute has shown a total of 261 visible female founded scaleups in the UK in 2021, with a total turnover of £14 billion (up 41% on the previous year) and total employment of 64,995. A total of £5 billion has been invested in those companies appearing on the index.

In 2021, BGF led investments across a diverse range of sectors with a female founder at the helm, including technology, clean growth, life sciences and e-commerce.

In Yorkshire and the North East, BGF has backed a number of women-led companies including J&B Recycling, run by entrepreneur, Vikki Jackson-Smith. BGF successfully exited the business in 2021, after the high-growth waste management and recycling specialist was acquired by Urbaser Ltd – the UK subsidiary of the third largest environmental services provider in Europe.

In 2021, BGF has made 12 investments in businesses with one or more female founder, an increase of 33% on the previous year. Total capital invested into women-led businesses during this time totals £110 million. Since 2011, BGF has invested £364 million in women-led businesses and provided £60 million of follow-on funding.

Cate Poulson, head of BGF Talent Network and a member of the board of ScaleUp Institute, said: “We are delighted to maintain our position as the leading institutional investor into women-led scaleup businesses, significantly increasing both the number of companies we’ve backed, and the total amount of capital invested.

“We have worked hard to make BGF welcoming and supportive to the widest and most diverse range of entrepreneurs; and increased our involvement with partners working with businesses coming through earlier investment rounds to boost the number of women led businesses in our pipeline.”

The 2022 Female Founders Index identified similar barriers to growth to their scaleup peers. Challenges around Access to Markets and Access to Talent are ranked significantly higher than other factors. Meanwhile, Access to Finance replaced Access to Infrastructure as the third greatest barrier in this year’s report.

Daina Spedding, (pictured) investor at BGF, added: “BGF is committed to increasing the flow of capital to women in business. We know that currently only a fraction of total investment goes to female founders, and while figures are increasing every year there is so much more that needs to be done.

“Representation of women in the investment industry is really important. There needs to be a better balance to the flow of capital to ensure greater economic outcomes and a level-playing field for all members of society. We have a huge opportunity to invest in more women and the investment industry has a responsibility to make sure that happens.”

BGF’s top ranking on the Female Founders Index follows last year’s announcement that Coutts, the Private Banking arm of NatWest, together with BGF, launched The UK Enterprise Fund to bring additional funding and support to entrepreneurs across the UK. The fund was set up to identify and address equity gaps across the whole of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, with specific initiatives and programmes for female-led businesses.

Cate added: “BGF’s involvement with the UKEF alongside initiatives such as IWC, DiversityVC and UKBAA’s Women in Angel Investing Taskforce underlines our commitment to continuously evolving and improving our EDI practices, enabling us to attract and retain diverse talent within our own business, and crucially to ensure we continue to form successful partnerships with incredible scaleup leaders.”