Foresight Williams Technology EIS

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The Foresight Williams Technology EIS Fund is a collaboration of Foresight Group with Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited. The offer focuses on early-stage, high-growth, technology companies. 

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.

Read important documents and apply

Highlights

  • Investing in early-stage, high-growth technology businesses 
  • Combined talents of Foresight Group and Williams Grand Prix Holdings
  • £10,000 minimum investment 
  • Minimum of 10 companies expected in the portfolio

The manager

This offer gives the opportunity to invest in early-stage high-tech companies chosen and nurtured by Foresight Group, one of the UK’s leading venture capital companies and Williams Advanced Engineering, a division of Williams Grand Prix Holdings and owner of the Williams Formula One team. The relationship between Williams and Foresight began in mid-2015. 

Foresight Group manages over £4 billion in client assets across VCT, EIS, IHT and third party funds. 

Williams Advanced Engineering (‘WAE’) was established in 2010 and is a wholly owned division of Williams Grand Prix Holdings plc. WAE provides technical innovation, engineering, testing and manufacturing services to a diverse client base in the automotive, aerospace, defence and energy sectors. It specialises in the commercial application of aerodynamics, advanced lightweight materials, hybrid power systems and electronics derived from Formula One racing to other uses. 

Watch a video interview with investment manager John Holden:

Recorded 7 November 2018

Investment strategy

The EIS will invest between £500,000 and £3 million per company. Companies are likely to be pre-profit, and with no revenue, typically operating in the hard tech sector (i.e. not software) as this is where Williams’ expertise lies: in designing, testing and manufacturing. WAE will only invest in companies where it can add value – this isn’t a passive portfolio where the underlying companies are left to get on with it.

Materials science is a key area as it can be applied in many different sectors i.e. new lightweight structures. Battery and energy storage are other areas of expertise as are connected with vehicles and mobility. The fund won’t include biotech, fintech or cybersecurity. 

For every deal, the underlying company will have a master service agreement with WAE. The agreement gives access to WAE capabilities, for example, wind tunnels and aerodynamicists, design and manufacturing of products.

WAE brings the commercial, technical and scientific expertise and Foresight adds its experience in deal structuring, mentoring and knowledge of exits.

Target return

The fund has not set a specific target return. Companies invested in must have the potential to deliver 10x returns on exit, in the view of the investment management team. Please note, returns are not guaranteed and there are likely to be failures.

Exit strategy

Foresight has many exits under its belt with companies that could have been suitable candidates for this fund. Please note past performance is not a guide to the future. Foresight will lead the exit strategy. It is expected that most businesses will be sold to third party trade buyers rather than floating on a stock market, typically 4-8 years after investment.

Portfolio

The fund has invested a total of £24.8 million across 15 companies (as at December 2019). It targets a minimum portfolio of 10 companies with funds fully deployed across 18 to 24 months (not guaranteed).

Below are portfolio company examples from previous iterations of the fund. They are outlined to give a flavour of the types of companies you might expect but are unlikely to be part of a new investor's portfolio. 

Oxford Space Systems – Foresight Williams EISOxford Space Systems Ltd

In May 2018, the Foresight Williams Technology EIS fund invested £2.1 million into Oxford Space Systems Ltd (‘OSS’), an award-winning space technology business. OSS has developed a new generation of light-weight antennae, boom systems & deployable panel systems for nanosatellites. Their designs address a number of technical challenges in the industry whilst providing significant savings in both build & launch costs. The company is well suited to the fund, as its focus on lightweight materials and structural innovation is a good match for WAE’s capabilities.

The company has had a number of successes in recent years. In 2017, it set two industry world record by deploying the OSS AstroTube boom just 30 months after the initial concept.

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.

Foresight Williams invested £1.5 million alongside Downing LLP, Ananda Impact Ventures and Rathbone Nominees to complete a joint £4.66 million funding.

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.

Charges

A summary of the main charges and savings is shown below. Some of these will be payable by the investor, whilst others by the investee companies. The investment may have additional charges and expenses: please see the provider documents, including the Key Information Document, for more details.

Investor charges
Full initial charge 5.5%
Wealth Club initial saving 0.5%
Net initial charge through Wealth Club 5%
Annual management charge 2%
Administration charge 0.3%
Performance fee 20%
Investee company charges
Initial charge Up to 5%
Annual charges 1%
All fees and charges are stated exclusive of VAT, which may be applicable in some cases. Any fees and charges payable by the investee companies or the underlying businesses do not directly come out of your investment. However, they will effectively reduce the returns generated by investee companies and therefore impact your investment.

More detail on the charges

Timing of the offer

The manager expects it will take up to two years to fully deploy investors’ subscriptions, although it targets completing this in around 18 months – not guaranteed. 

Our view

Despite the association with Williams, you won’t be investing in Formula One. This early-stage, high-growth, high-tech offer looks to invest in cutting edge companies that can benefit from help, expertise and nurturing from the Williams Advanced Engineering division of the Williams Racing team. Whilst it doesn’t guarantee success, WAE can add a level of expertise and technical know-how in this high risk offer.

Read important documents and apply

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.

The details

Type
Fund
Sector
Technology
Target return
Not specified
Funds raised / sought
-
Minimum investment
£10,000
Deadline
Discretionary
Last updated: 28 January 2020

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