Hauser sugar sweetens UK entrepreneurs

Hermann Hauser's decision to adopt the mantle of UK IT start-up sugar daddy is getting rave reviews from the industry.

Acorn founder Hauser has promised an initial pool of $50 million to invest in IT start-up projects which catch his eye and is promising to cover ground often deemed too risky by venture capitalists who specialise outside the IT industry.

"It's an excellent idea," said Mike Hill, director of product marketing at Dr.Solomon's Software. Dr.Solomon's has been the beneficiary of UK venture capital money in the past but Hill added: "I applaud anyone who can try and break down the fairly conservative investment approach to IT in the UK. It is easier for US firms, so this may give the UK entrepreneur a good kick-start."

"It's a positive step. It's a lot of money and a lot depends on how it is used," said Martin Clark, managing director of portable computing specialist Lapland, a recent UK success story.

Both Hill and Clark said that Hauser's intention to provide secondary funding to aid continued growth was also a good thing, as that it perhaps one of the hardest areas to get investment from traditional venture capitalists.

"It's important to remember though that this industry, particularly software, is US-intensive so any start-up will still have to look to the US for joint ventures and support to try and gain a foothold in the market," said Hill. "That can often lead to exposure to acquisition-hungry US firms and only then will the level of UK investment from sources such as Hermann Hauser be tested."