A consortium led by Sunderland-based North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC), has secured up to an additional £2m from Innovate UK to further encourage Business Angels to bring investment and expertise to pioneering innovative small and medium companies across the North.
In 2019, the same consortium, also made up of the Innovation SuperNetwork, NorthInvest and the UK Business Angels Association, secured £1m worth of Innovate UK funding to encourage investment in innovative early-stage companies, as part of the Regional Angel Investment Accelerator (RAIA) pilot programme.
The pilot was to last two years, but the project saw such demand and success that it deployed most of the funding in just 12 months, ultimately supporting 8 businesses across the North East, North West and Yorkshire, and leveraging £1.7m worth of Angel investment alongside the grant allocation.
The consortium is one of three to share an additional £6m of grant funding from Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation.
Paul McEldon, Chief Executive of the North East BIC, said: “This funding extension demonstrates a real appetite for investing in North businesses. The quality of innovative companies coming out of the regions provides an exciting opportunity for investors and the additional funding will help us to build on our success in stimulating an early-stage investment community to help our businesses to grow and scale-up.”
The latest round of funding is announced as Innovation SuperNetwork also launches the Accelerating Investment and Innovation Summit, designed to bring interested parties together to boost investment in regional businesses.
Estelle Blanks, CEO at the SuperNetwork, said: “This funding will enable us to maintain and build further momentum following the success of the first round of RAIA funding, and complement the range of activity being delivered in the access to finance space. We have seen significant growth in investor capacity regionally and hope to continue driving greater connectivity between investors nationally and the innovative businesses coming out of the North East and wider North.”
“Our Accelerating Investment and Innovation Summit is a pragmatic response to the challenge of bringing policy makers, investors, entrepreneurs and businesses together to enable the region to better connect the investment and innovation ecosystems. We kick-started an important conversation on the funding gap and challenges experienced by innovative regional companies last year, and I’m delighted we can now explore opportunities to improve things further against the backdrop of this critical pot of funding from Innovate UK.”
The aim of the funding programme from Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, is to increase the pool of regional angel investors prepared to consider investing in earlier stage, ambitious, innovative businesses in the regions.
Helen Oldham, Founding Director at NorthInvest, said: “We’ve seen some fantastic success from the first round of Innovate UK funding, not least a total of more than £2.5m invested in regional start-ups and scale-ups. Yet one of the key successes is the impact we’ve seen in increasing diversity, raising the number of women investors in our networks to 16%, and seeing 20% of funding go to female-led businesses. This is well above the national average of just 1% of VC funding going to women. We’re looking forward to continuing our activity to drive forward a more inclusive investment landscape.”
Bruce Colley, Investor Partnerships Programme lead at Innovate UK, said: “We are confident that this funding will build on the consortium’s success in building local business angel capacity to invest in ambitious, innovative businesses, which in turn help to drive economic growth in the region.”
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.
Grants of up to 50% of the costs of early-stage R&D projects are available to businesses who are able to secure at least the same level of investment from investors introduced by the consortium. Projects can be between 6 and 12-months, with total project costs between £50k and £1m. Later stage R&D projects may also be considered although the level of grant funding will be a maximum of 45%.
Concurrent Angel investment in the business will allow businesses to meet the rest of the costs and grow the business beyond the project.
Business Angels, either based in the North or seeking to invest in the North and SMEs undertaking R&D projects in the North interested in applying for this Innovate UK grant funding should contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Accelerating Investment and Innovation Summit will take place online on Thursday 23rd September. To learn more or to register, visit: https://supernetwork.org.uk/investment-summit/