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The Co-Investment Fund (Co-FundNI) has reached a significant milestone after backing a Belfast business alongside its 200th private investor. The organisation, created by Invest NI and managed by Clarendon Fund Managers, has now invested almost £9m into 28 companies.

Co-FundNI invests with private investors such as business angels or their syndicates into eligible SMEs based in Northern Ireland, and provides up to 50 per cent of equity investment alongside 50 per cent from private investors on a deal-by-deal basis.

The 200th investor milestone was achieved when Co-FundNI backed SaltDNA, a Belfast-based software company, alongside US-based investors.

The business has recently launched the world's first encrypted mobile communications service built for corporate use, having raised more than £1m of investment.

Enterprise minister Jonathan Bell said reaching the milestone is an "excellent achievement" and "demonstrates that Co-FundNI continues to play a vital role" in Invest NI's wider Access to Finance portfolio.

To date the fund has invested £8.8m into 28 companies, alongside £12.1m of match funding from private investors.

Brian Cummings, investment director at Clarendon Fund Managers, said: "It has been another exceptional year for Co-FundNI.

"Since receiving the top-up in funding at the end of 2014, we have come to the end of a busy 12 month period. We have invested £2.3m alongside £2.9m of private investment across 25 investment rounds.

"This means we have been the most active local source of equity funding in the last year. We have seen several exciting portfolio companies start to scale-up and attract significant investment rounds from corporate and institutional investors."

In addition to SaltDNA, Co-Fund NI has recently supported, a Portadown-based online comparison site that enables drivers to compare price and services offered by garages, with almost £2m being raised from a range of UK private investors.

Furthermore, Co-FundNI was the first institutional investor into Cirdan Imaging which recently secured £3.5m of investment, including £900,000 from software firm Kainos.