SEP raises £160m and helps with the Scottish Tech Tour.

Leading UK venture capital group SEP (Scottish Equity Partners) has just announced that it has raised approximately £160 million ($300 million) for its new fund, SEP III which ranks as the largest venture fund raised in Europe in the last twelve months and one of the biggest in the last few years.

The new fund marks the second time in five years that SEP has raised a fund in excess of £100 million. Most of the significant current investors in SEP funds have (re)invested in SEP III, including the European Investment Fund (EIF); Foreign & Colonial Private Equity Trust; and Royal Bank of Scotland.The fund has also attracted participations from a number of new blue-chip institutional investors from across Europe, including Swiss Re, Skandia, Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, Etera Mutual Pension Insurance Company (Finland), Gartmore, Cooperative Insurance Society and Finama.

SEP Managing Director Calum Paterson said: “We are very pleased to have had such an excellent response to our new fund, which reflects well on our investment team and strategy. Our objective was not to raise as much money as possible, but to cap the fund at a sensible level relative to the market we operate in. We have attracted a much broader international investor base than in previous funds and that will stand us in good stead for the future.”

SEP, which has offices in Glasgow and London, focuses on investments in early stage and emerging growth companies throughout the UK in the information technology, healthcare and energy-related technology sectors.

SEP has completed the investment programme for its £100 million SEP II fund, launched in 2001, which has been invested in 30 emerging and growing technology companies throughout the UK. The current fund will follow the same investment strategy, although some non-UK investments may also be considered.

“The UK is the most vibrant venture capital market in Europe and our fundraising is a vote of confidence in the market as well as in SEP,” Paterson said. “We have already identified a number of attractive opportunities for the new fund and have a strong investment pipeline across all three of our core areas of focus.”

SEP are also helping organise The Scottish Tech Tour which is part of the European Tech Tour Association (ETT), an independent non-profit organisation committed to the development of emerging technology companies in Europe.

ETT develops country-specific tours that present the most promising technology companies to international investors and technology entrepreneurs.

The Scottish Tech Tour 2006 is the 24th tour in the series. Running from 6-8th December Tour will present 20 high-potential technology companies to 60 senior delegates comprising private equity investors, advisors, non-executive directors and entrepreneurs. The Tour is being organised by Ian Ritchie and Gary Le Sueur from SCT, with significant input from the ETT organisation in Geneva.

The Tour will open with a Gala Dinner at Stirling Castle with 250+ invited guests. Then, for two days, delegates will tour various technology sites in Edinburgh and Glasgow and get acquainted with key players and the best technology companies in Scotland.

If you are interested in getting on the short list please register your “Scottish” company here by Oct. 15

Over the last few months, prior to my awareness of the Scottish Tech Tour, I had been talking to various people in Scotland, such as Craig Cockburn, about having a TechCrunch Scotland event in Glasgow and/or Edinburgh.

Personally I would still like to do/sponsor a TechCrunch Scotland event as there are some very knowledgeable Web 2.0 people based in Scotland that I would certainly ask to be on the panel, such as Hugh McLeod and Pete Cashmore but only if anyone is interested.