27 January 2006
The North West Regional Development Agency played host to the great and the good of the UK business angel movement this week, with an interactive workshop that included speakers from Government, academia, the City, public and private investor networks.
The British Business Angels Association's (BBAA) first Winter Workshop held in Warrington provided a fascinating insight into the shape and size of the angel market today, together with practical sessions on best practice models in valuation and angel syndication, the 'investment readiness' of candidate companies and how to encourage individuals with management, technical or marketing skills and capital to invest in small businesses and join an angel network. Open only to BBAA members, the event is part of a move sponsored by national Government to quantify, recognise and reward the contribution of business angel finance to UK plc.
NWDA's TEChINVEST founder and manager Vivienne Upcott-Gill who, as one of the most experienced business angel network managers in the UK, has played a key role in encouraging the development of angel networks and the sharing of best practice, opened the proceedings by welcoming delegates and paying tribute to the work of the new BBAA Chairman Anthony Clarke in placing the issue at the forefront of the national agenda.
Deputy Director, Access to Finance Policy, Grant Peggie and Ken Cooper, Head of Investment and Portfolio Management at the at Small Business Service (SBS) confirmed the importance of private investors as an economic force. Both referred to a new research programme to be undertaken by the Small Business Investment Taskforce to identify the size and scope of business angel investment activity in the UK and confirmed that Government funding would continue to support BBAA until March 2008.
Professor Richard Harrison of Queen's University, Belfast is one of two leading academics who have profiled business angel activity in the past. He and Professor Colin Mason have already carried out extensive studies into the individual profile and motivation of business angels and are due to publish new research on angels in Scotland, which will highlight the key role of angels as catalysts in the investment market.
Changes in the last 12 months include improved liquidity, less emphasis on individual exit routes and closer links between angel finance and traditional venture capital and/or co-investment funds.
Commenting on the event, Vivienne Upcott-Gill said: "We are delighted that the BBAA chose the Northwest as the venue for this winter workshop. Business angels have been a key source of early stage finance in the Northwest. The Northwest Regional Development Agency has worked hard to grow the number of angels and also create a range of seed and equity finance funds which are second to none nationwide. These enable more of our dynamic new and growing businesses to access the vital funding they need, as well as helping angels who do not wish to invest alone to invest alongside other investors. This top level event supports our positioning as one of the more buoyant and dynamic economic regions of the UK.
"Our role now is to take the intellectual content of this workshop and cascade the information to our investor network, helping them to structure sophisticated deals which work well for them over the long term."
TEChINVEST is one of the country's best known and longest established investor networks. In the 15 years since its inception, it has helped Northwest business raise over £19m in direct funding and unlock a further £38m in indirect finance.
For further information on the TEChINVEST service, please visit our website http://www.techinvest.org
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Press contact: Deborah Garritty, Bell Pottinger North (01625 506444)>