• A new pilot funding programme to encourage Business Angels in the regions to bring investment and expertise to pioneering innovative small and medium companies has awarded £2m to two North-based projects.
  • A total of £3m of Innovate UK funding has been shared across three angel investor partners (AIPs). Each will work with local angel networks and groups.

A consortium led by Sunderland-based North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC), has received £1m from Innovate UK to support the growth of local angel networks across the North East, Yorkshire and North West.

The programme, which partners with the Innovation SuperNetwork, NorthInvest and the UK Business Angels Association, will encourage investment in innovative early stage companies.

Northstar Ventures have also secured £1m to work directly with start-up businesses coming out of North East universities to help them secure angel investment and grant funding to accelerate their growth potential at an earlier stage.

Professor Adam Beaumont, Founder of NorthInvest and member of the Masarati 100, commented on the funding, “My founding belief was to create an organisation which could drive grass roots growth through investment.

“The award of this fund is an important milestone in the evolution of Northinvest, moving from not only driving private angel investment, but having co-funds to manage as part of that funding process.”

Jake Berry, Northern Powerhouse Minister commented “The importance of investing in a broad base of entrepreneurism across the North is a key tenet of achieving a true depth and strength to the Northern Powerhouse.  Initiatives, such as this, which can bring together public and private funds in an agile manner, has been borne out of the kind of cooperation which makes the North a great place to do business.”

Paul McEldon, Chief Executive of the North East BIC, said: “We are delighted to be able to pilot the Regional Angel Investment Accelerator in the North of England to stimulate and grow the angel community. Our programmes support technology businesses at the forefront of innovation but we need to proactively develop an engaged and diverse early stage investment community in our regions to allow these businesses to grow and scale up. We are looking forward to working with Innovate UK, angel investors and all our partners to achieve this.”

Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council, said: “This is very good news for the wealth of entrepreneurial talent we have in Leeds and the region. There is so much high-quality innovation coming out of our universities and Leeds is fast being established as one of the UK’s leading centres for digital and media industries, along with having a thriving independent sector.

“Great business start-ups can really flourish under the business angel approach and the consortium’s success in bringing the resources of public and private sector together should really pay dividends.”

Helen Oldham, Director, North Invest, “We’ve always had a clear mission to increase Angel capacity and diversity in the North of England. Securing access to this fund means we can significantly accelerate our progress and provide more free, friendly, straight talking investor readiness support to Founders and Innovators. We’re very excited about the possibilities opening up via this new initiative.

“The aim of this pilot funding programme from Innovate UK is to increase the pool of regional angel investors prepared to consider investing in earlier stage, ambitious, innovative businesses in the regions.

Joanne Roney OBE, Chief Executive, Manchester City Council: “Greater Manchester welcomes this boost to increasing the availability, supply and awareness of angel finance across the North.

“This offers another opportunity to unlock private capital into the innovation gap and stimulate greater funding into pioneering emerging technology and unlocking potential.

“We look forward through GC Angels, Greater Manchester’s response in the early stage investment space, to working closely with Innovate UK and NorthInvest to drive these funds to high growth businesses that need them.”

The funding will be used to identify suitable investment opportunities and investors, as well as provide grants to businesses to deliver innovation projects with a view to longer term business angel involvement and future commercial success.

Successful businesses will receive a grant of up to 50% of the costs of a specific innovation project, which lasts up to 12-months and have total project costs between £40K and £300K.

Concurrent Angel investment in the business will allow businesses to meet the rest of the costs and grow the business beyond the project. Applications to the scheme are by invitation only with each of the AIPs responsible for raising awareness amongst both local angels and companies over the coming months.

The three AIPs are:

  • North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) which is collaborating with the Innovation SuperNetwork, Northinvest and the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA), along with a number of local angel networks.

  • Northstar Ventures Limited, an established equity fund with a strong track record of funding alongside local angel investors.

  • University of Bath for the SETsquared Partnership, which are collaborating with the UK Business Angel Association (UKBAA) and regional angel networks.