The whole point of venture capital investment is to benefit from the fast growth of the fledgling companies which may become tomorrow's giants.

One company whose growth has been made possible by just such investment is Sanctuary Music Productions, home of acts like Love City Groove and Alexander O'Neal. SMP forms joint-venture record labels with talent scouts in a variety of pop music genres. The talent scouts find the acts, and SMP does the rest.

The company took a listing on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) earlier this year, following its parent group successfully raising cash through a VCT. AIM is a market which allows smaller companies to raise funds from investors with fewer of the formal obstacles presented by a full Stock Exchange listing. Like other forms of venture capital investment, AIM's potentially higher returns come only at the cost of higher risk.

SMP's major shareholder is its parent group, which owns 60 per cent of the company. Institutions such as Invesco and Framlington also have a holding. Individual small investors own somewhere between 10 per cent and 15 per cent.

Sanctuary Group finance director Mike Miller says: "There are some wealthy individuals involved who we've met along the way. But there are also some private punters who came in, presumably because it's something a bit more interesting than a widget manufacturer."

The company's share price on AIM stood at 65.5p on launch, peaked at 75.5p and has since been hovering in the 67.5p to 70p range for the past couple of months. "We're slowly building," says Miller.

Many small companies unit or investment trusts include a few AIM shares. The SMP shares held by Framlington, for example, form part of the company's Framlington 1,000 Smallest Companies investment trust, which shows growth of 952 per cent over the past five years, placing it at number 19 in a sector of 43 trusts.