DUBLIN, Ireland – Agincourt Capital, a new independent Irish venture capital firm founded by a group of more than 25 Irish and American businessmen with strong contacts and experience in the technology sector, aims to raise $200 million for investment in early-stage Irish technology companies with the potential to tap the North American market.
Despite the strong links existing between the Republic of Ireland and the United States, fewer than 10% of indigenous Irish technology companies export to the U.S.
Instead, the majority focus on selling to Europe, although North American markets account for 48% of technology products purchased globally.
Agincourt’s managing partners, Paul Kane and Patrick Durcan, believe Ireland’s early-stage technology sector is underserved by existing venture capital groups. The Agincourt fund will address this gap.
“We will look at companies at the base-site stage, funding finalization of research and development and the establishment of marketing and distribution capability,” Mr. Durcan said. “The firms we back will normally be no more than three years old, and some much younger than that.”
Agincourt will concentrate primarily on ventures based in the island of Ireland but will also consider investing in overseas companies that have close connections, such as distributors, to the Irish market.
The fund’s target sectors will include e-commerce, enterprise software tools and medical instruments, but Agincourt will not invest in biotechnology-based ventures, which typically have a longer lead-time to market. In parallel with the fund, Agincourt Capital will establish a dedicated export company to build U.S. sales for investees and other Irish technology companies.
Agincourt is targeting its fund-raising effort exclusively in the United States. As well as reflecting Agincourt’s own orientation, this focus reflects the fact that levels of comfort and familiarity with technology investments are generally higher in the U.S. than in Europe. Mr. Durcan emphasized that Agincourt is not approaching “the usual suspects” but rather is tapping a network of private individuals with technology backgrounds – which the group is in a good position to access, thanks to its partners’ extensive contact network – and corporate investors seeking windows on technology outside their domestic market.
So far, Agincourt has rounded up commitments totaling more than $30 million and expects to finalize a $40 million first closing before the end of June.
Agincourt will benefit from a high-profile advisory board that includes former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell; Pat O’Neill, managing director of Glanbia (formerly Avonmore Waterford Group); and Dr. Peter Bacon, an economic adviser to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
Paul Kane, a veteran of IBM, where he was head of U.S. marketing, and of Nixdorf computer, has 14 years’ experience in the sales and marketing of software, services and computer products in the U.S. Mr. Durcan, a former chairman of the Irish Venture Capital Association, previously worked at AIB Capital Markets and has 15 years’ experience in Ireland’s investment and banking sectors.