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Octopus Ventures invests a further £220K in 21Net
A total commitment to 21 NET by Octopus Ventures of £1.5m to date

8 October 2008

Octopus Ventures invests a further £220K in 21Net, pioneers in the delivery of broadband internet on high speed trains

-A total commitment to 21 NET by Octopus Ventures of £1.5m to date-

-Implementation of broadband internet on Thalys trains gathers momentum-

Octopus Ventures Ltd, specialist investors in early-stage and expanding businesses, are pleased to announce the investment of a further £220,000 in 21Net (“21Net” or “the Company”), pioneers in the successful delivery of broadband internet access on trains travelling at velocities of up to 300 km per hour.

This represents a total commitment of £1.5 million made by Octopus Ventures to date. The capital raised will be used to further develop and enhance 21Net’s “Broadband to Trains” system, the only commercialised and railway grade system capable of providing true internet broadband connectivity to high speed trains on the move.

Founded in 2001, 21Net, a European Space Agency sponsored company, became the first operator to technically demonstrate successful delivery of internet broadband on high speed trains through the use of bi-directional satellite connectivity in 2004.

Since then, the Company has been working closely with leading railway operators on the development, testing and delivery of its unique broadband system.

In September 2007, Thalys, the pan-European high speed train operator, selected a consortium consisting of Nokia Siemens Networks, 21Net and Telenet to provide wireless broadband internet access to its passengers travelling between Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne, by the end of 2008.

In order to deliver true broadband internet access to Thalys’ customers, the consortium have combined satellite, GPRS and UMTS technologies with wireless networks similar to WiFi Hotspots in order to provide continuous internet connection on board trains travelling across country boarders at speeds of up to 300 km/h. Seamless switchover from GPRS/UTMS to the satellite connectivity has also been implemented in order to maintain internet access while trains are running through covered areas, such as stations or tunnels.

With 14 trains equipped with this technology to date and 12 further trains anticipated for completion by the end of October 2008, Thalys has become the first international high speed railway company to deliver a full broadband internet service across borders to its passengers.

The unique mobile DVB/RCS modem utilised by 21Net will enable all trains within the Thalys fleet to share bandwidth, allocating bandwidth on demand thereby ensuring that costs are controlled and available bandwidth is maximised.

More than half of the £220,000 capital provided by Octopus Ventures was provided by Octopus Titan VCT 1 plc and Octopus Titan VCT 2 plc, launched in October 2007 in order to generate real returns for investors over the longer term through investment into early-stage and expansion-stage companies. The remainder was provided by members of the Octopus Investor Group in addition to the Octopus Eureka and EIS funds.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Alex Macpherson, Chief Executive, said: “Over the last twelve months, 21Net has made significant progress with the full commercialisation of its product. To be selected as part of the Thalys consortium was a major milestone for the Company and demonstrates how unique its technology is.

“We have been delighted with its progress and firmly believe its seamless “Broadband to Trains” offering will not only revolutionise the way in which people access the internet when travelling but secure it a place as a leading technology and communication provider of the future. We look forward to continuing to work with the 21Net team during the next exciting phase of its development.”

Henry Hyde-Thompson, Founder of 21Net, said: “We are extremely grateful to Octopus Ventures for their continued support. Over the past few years, the advice and skills we have been able to access through their Investor Group have proved invaluable and undoubtedly accelerated the progress we have made with the commercialisation of our product.

“We are really looking forward to building on the success we have enjoyed to date and will be continuing to draw on Octopus’ substantial expertise as we enter the next phase of our European rollout strategy.”


Media Enquires:

Octopus Investments Ltd:
Rob Forbes, Head of PR
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7710 2840

The Millbrook Partnership:
Michaela Hopkins/Emily Bastin
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7520 9455

Marianne Alaux, Press Communication
Tel: +32 (0)15 618 870

Notes to Editors:

About Octopus Ventures (
Octopus Ventures, a subsidiary of Octopus Investments, is a venture capital company with support from a dedicated Octopus Investor Group, which provides many competitive advantages.

The Octopus Investor Group was formed by a group of successful entrepreneurs and businessmen to provide capital and business expertise to small, fast growing companies. The Company received FSA authorisation in June 2000.

Over the past seven years, the Octopus Ventures team has invested £17.7m into 27 companies and generated a return of 61% per annum (equivalent to 4x the amount invested) from 11 liquidity events. Across the entire portfolio (including those investments not yet realised), Octopus Ventures’ annual rate of return has been 29%.

In October 2007, Octopus Investments launched Octopus Titan VCT 1 and Octopus Titan VCT 2 which have since raised £30 million. Octopus Ventures is the Investment Manager of this Fund. The focus of the fund is to generate real returns on investors’ money over the long term by investing into unquoted companies with strong growth potential. The typical deal size will range from £500,000 to £2 million and the portfolio is expected to encompass investments in 20-25 unquoted companies. The Fund is structured as a twin VCT to enable it to make investments of up to £2 million per company, twice the amount possible for single VCTs.

Following the continued demand seen by Octopus Titan VCT 1 and 2, Octopus Titan VCT 3 plc was launched in May 2008. Like the previous Titan VCTs, Octopus Titan 3 has been designed to deliver strong returns to investors through investment into smaller UK companies. The Fund will seek to raise up to £25 million in the 2008/2009 tax year and will have the potential to support up to 30 unquoted UK companies.

About Octopus Investments Ltd
Established in 2000, Octopus Investments is one of the UK’s fastest growing alternative investment specialists, providing investors with access to a growing range of innovative investment products including venture capital trusts, enterprise investment schemes, inheritance tax solutions, business property relief products and a range of UK equity OEICs.

Since its inception, Octopus Investments has doubled its customer base annually to over 20,000 today and has grown its funds under management by 100% per annum to over £600 million. The company enjoys leading positions in every market area in which it operates:

* Leading VCT provider in the UK

* Inheritance Tax Solutions significantly outperforming index

* Largest provider of EIS solutions

* Top performing Smaller Companies OEICs

* Leading private equity player in sub-£25million deals

Additionally, Octopus was voted the top UK financial services company to work for in the Sunday Times survey of “Best 100 SMEs to Work For” in 2008.

Further information on Octopus Investments Ltd can be found at

Octopus Investments Limited is authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Services Authority, 25 The North Colonnade, Canary Wharf, London E14 5HS. Registered office: 8 Angel Court, London EC2R 7HP. Registered in England & Wales under No. 3942880.

About 21Net (
21Net is a European operator specialising in the provision of true Broadband internet access for trains based on bi-directional satellite connectivity. Initially sponsored by the European Space Agency, 21Net was the first provider to technically demonstrate the provisioning of broadband internet on a high speed train in 2004.

Since 2004, 21Net has been working closely with leading railway operators RENFE, THALYS and SNCF on the development of a solution which combines bi-directional satellite communications and terrestrial wireless technologies. Its “Broadband to Trains” system is a robust and technically mature system which adheres to railway standards.

21Net has mastered the use of a unique mobile DVB/RCS modem, which enables all trains within a fleet to share satellite bandwidth through the allocation of “bandwidth on demand” in accordance with the usage level aboard each train. With 21Net, Satellite bandwidth scales linearly with internet use.

Publisher Contact Information:

Octopus Ventures (,
+44 (0) 20 7520 9455

Company profile of Octopus Ventures
Past press releases of Octopus Ventures.


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