Review: Downing Ventures EIS

Archived article

Archived article: please remember tax and investment rules and circumstances can change over time. This article reflects our views at the time of publication.

The Downing Ventures EIS portfolio invests in early stage companies in areas like enterprise software, health technology and e-commerce. The Downing Ventures EIS was previously known as the Downing Growth EIS Fund 4.


  • Early-stage high-growth EIS portfolio
  • Investors are expected to hold ten to fifteen EIS qualifying companies
  • Focus on enterprise software (SaaS), health technology and e-commerce
  • Minimum investment £15,000

Important: The information on this website is for experienced investors. It is not advice nor a research or personal recommendation to invest. If you’re unsure, please seek advice. Investments are for the long term. They are high risk and illiquid and can fall as well as rise in value, so you could get back less than you invest.

The manager

Downing LLP is an established manager of VCTs, EIS and IHT products. Most of its investment strategies have been conservative to date, however changes to VCT and EIS rules means it is now focussing on growth capital opportunities for new investment.

Downing has three main sources of investment opportunities for the Ventures fund. The first is the range of Downing VCTs, which co-invest alongside the Ventures EIS fund and allows Downing to provide substantial funding support to investee firms. Secondly, Downing has a network of VC funds across the UK, Europe and the States including Unilever Ventures, Balderton Capital and BGF Ventures. Downing has also built partnerships with government agencies, including the European Space Agency and the London Co-Investment Fund. 

Watch a video interview with fund manager Richard Lewis:

The fund

The fund seeks to invest £500,000 to £1 million in early-stage businesses, often as part of larger rounds alongside co-investors. It focusses on a broad range of sectors, including enterprise software, health technology and e-commerce.

Downing looks for talented entrepreneurs; early traction; defensible technology or strategy; businesses that are ready to scale; and a large addressable market. Companies will typically be at a stage where they have launched a product, are generating some revenue, and have a strong management team and board.

Examples of portfolio companies

Previous investments made by the Downing Ventures team include Live Better With, MoveGB and Open Bionics. Please note, these are examples only: new investments may be made in other companies.

Live Better With - Downing FOUR VCT - HealthcareLive Better With

Livebetterwith is an e-commerce healthcare platform helping people with long-term medical conditions live better through non-medical products. It has created an online marketplace for products for people living with cancer. Products tackle common problems, from night sweats to nausea or hair loss, with the aim to make day‐to‐day life better for patients. The company launched in the UK and the US, with offices in London and New York. Downing-managed funds have invested a total of £1.1 million in the company to date. 

Open Bionics – Foresight Williams EISOpen Bionics

Open Bionics is a Bristol start-up that is developing a new wave of advanced bionic hands and arms. The company uses 3D printing and scanning technology to produce custom-made prosthetics at a lower manufacturing cost than usual, in an area considered an expensive area of prosthetics. Its first commercial product, the Hero Arm, secured commercial licenses from Disney, Marvel and Pixar to design arms for children with themes from Star Wars, Frozen and the Marvel Universe. Downing-managed funds invested alongside Foresight Williams Technology EIS Fund, Ananda Impact Ventures and Rathbone Nominees.

Yamuna Renewables Ltd

As is to be expected, not all investments work out. One such example is Yamuna Renewables, a wood pellet manufacturer.

The company required funding to develop a new production plant in Austria which could produce up to 50,000 tonnes of wood pellets a year. Its key consumers were expected to be domestic and industrial biomass boilers, of which there were over 200,000 in Austria alone. 

Downing invested a total of £8.5 million across its funds. However, due to substantial operational issues, the company has been heavily written down.

Risks – important

This, like all investments available through Wealth Club, is only for experienced investors happy to make their own investment decisions without advice. 

EIS investments are high-risk so should only form part of a balanced portfolio and you should not invest money you cannot afford to lose. They also tend to be illiquid and hard to sell and value. Before you invest, please carefully read the Risks and Commitments and the offer documents to ensure you fully understand the risks. 

Tax rules can change, and benefits depend on circumstances.

This EIS fund invests in early-stage businesses which are more likely to fail than larger ones. So you should expect a number of failures in the portfolio.

Fees, charges & how to invest

Please go to the offer page for details on fees and charges, to download the Information Memorandum, and to apply online for Downing Ventures EIS.

Wealth Club aims to make it easier for experienced investors to find information on – and apply for – tax-efficient investments. You should base your investment decision on the provider's documents and ensure you have read and fully understand them before investing. This review is a marketing communication. It is not advice or a personal or research recommendation to buy the investment mentioned. It does not satisfy legal requirements promoting investment research independence and is thus not subject to prohibitions on dealing ahead of its dissemination.

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Downing Ventures EIS

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