UKTV announces first deal for UKTV Ventures, its multi-million pound Innovation Fund


23 October 2018

  • UKTV Ventures has made its first airtime for equity investment in Hopster
  • Sheena Amin appointed to head up UKTV's Ventures fund

UKTV has unveiled its first deal invested through UKTV Ventures, its multi-million pound Innovation Fund, with an airtime-for-equity investment in Hopster. The broadcaster also announced the appointment of Sheena Amin to spearhead the fund.

UKTV announced the launch of The Innovation Fund last year to invest in burgeoning high-growth companies wishing to access the television advertising market. Under the terms of the fund, UKTV obtains equity stakes in businesses in return for advertising airtime on its network, helping companies to build their brand and scale their business by advertising on television.

Hopster, the award-winning preschool learning and entertainment platform, is the first business to benefit from an investment by UKTV Ventures. Hopster blends entertainment and education with content designed to help develop kids' core early years skills and to encourage their curiosity. The app includes ad-free family friendly TV shows such as Thomas & Friends and Sesame Street segments, along with a growing catalogue of songs, books and educational games.

Simon Michaelides, UKTV's Chief Commercial Officer said:

TV advertising remains the most efficient and effective marketing medium, with the highest spend coming from businesses in the digital sector. We're very pleased to help high potential companies like Hopster gain access to the growth opportunity that TV brings, and we look forward to being part of the growth story for even more innovative, young businesses in the future.

To run the fund UKTV has appointed Sheena Amin in the newly created role of Director of Business Development and Diversification. Sheena began her career as a venture capitalist investing in high growth technology businesses at growth equity firm Summit Partners. She has gone on to hold senior positions in the media and telecoms space, including heading up business development at Virgin Media and managing commercial partnerships for Dixons Carphone. Sheena understands the challenges of launching and growing a business having founded and run a successful start-up of her own, UniVentures, a graduate recruitment and marketing business. She is also a passionate ambassador for entrepreneurship having sat on the Board of Young Enterprise, the country's foremost enterprise education charity for young people, as a Trustee from 2010 to 2017 and in 2018 founded TYE - a London-based network which aims to connect, develop and nurture a community of young entrepreneurs and business leaders seeking personal and business growth.

At UKTV, Sheena is responsible for UKTV Ventures and will also lead the development of new capabilities and revenue streams by enhancing UKTV's core business and diversifying beyond it. Sheena reports directly to Simon Michaelides and she is currently in the process of building out a dedicated UKTV Ventures team.

Simon addded:

I'm very excited to welcome Sheena to UKTV. She brings with her a rare blend of experience with both a grounding in Venture Capital, and a thorough understanding of digital business development in the Broadcast TV industry. This makes her perfectly placed to lead our innovation agenda, and fuel UKTV's growth story well into the future!

Sheena said: "I am delighted to have joined UKTV and to have the opportunity to play such a pivotal role in shaping the company's growth and diversification strategy over the years to come. My first priority will be to develop UKTV Ventures - raise awareness of our unique proposition, define our investment strategy and build a strong team. We're off to a great start with our first investment in Hopster and I look forward to partnering with many more innovative startups to help them create a strong brand, acquire new customers and grow their business to the next level."

Sheena's arrival and UKTV Ventures' first investment come at a time when UKTV's original programming is at an all-time high. The broadcaster has over 100 shows in the pipeline, representing its biggest commissioning slate in the company's 25-year history. It's also moved into commissioning original scripted drama for the first time with Flack, starring Academy Award Winning actress Anna Paquin, and Women on The Verge, co-created by Lorna Martin and Sharon Horgan, set to air on W in the coming months.

For more information, please contact:
Kerry Goode, Head of Network Communications
Ali Laurie, Network Communications Executive

About UKTV
UKTV is a commercial broadcaster reaching almost 40m viewers every month.

The award-winning independent has eleven imaginative brands - UKTV Play, Dave, W, Gold, Alibi, Yesterday, Drama, Really, Home, Eden and Good Food. These include the two most popular non-PSB channels in the UK and account for nearly 10% of the British commercial TV market.

The network delivers inspired channels to audiences through Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media, BT, TalkTalk, YouView, Freesat, Amazon Fire and UKTV Play, and distributes its highly valued original programmes to 200 territories.

Now celebrating over 20 years at the forefront of digital television, UKTV - an independent commercial joint venture between BBC Studios and Discovery, Inc. - is proud to be the first British television broadcaster in The Sunday Times top 100 companies list. | | @uktvpress