Tech South West launches Angel Investor Programme to address funding gap and foster innovation

A new Angel Investor Programme launching in the Great South West is set to play a pivotal role in driving economic growth.

The initiative is aimed at identifying, educating, and supporting new individual investors, fostering a diverse and thriving investment community to drive innovation and help address funding challenges for tech businesses in the region.

The innovative programme, set to operate between October 2023 and March the following year, has been forged through a collaborative venture between Tech South West, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Growth Hub, Heart of the South West Growth Hub, North Devon Council, Torridge Council, Cornwall LEP, Dorset LEP, Heart of the South West LEP, and the British Business Bank.

Through a unique combination of community-building, capacity-building, and ecosystem mobilisation, the programme aims to recruit 40 new angel investors for the region, with a particular focus on fostering diversity. This is expected to generate £2.8 million of angel investment annually, ultimately resulting in a total funding boost of £9 million* and helping to continue the growth of the South West tech sector, which is predicted to rise to a Gross Value Added of £19 billion by 2026.**

Ben Cooper, Funding and Finance Director at Tech South West, said “Collaborating with local LEPs, growth hubs, and councils, the Angel Investor Programme reflects our collective vision to establish a self-sustaining ecosystem of investors and drive change in the Great South West region.

“The recent South West Intelligence Report from the British Business Bank underlines the challenges we face, highlighting fragmentation and underinvestment in our angel investment landscape. With only 5% of UK angel investment finding its way to our region, primarily in Bristol, and limited awareness among potential investors, persistent funding disparities, especially for diverse and female founders, have persisted.

“This initiative is our response to these obstacles, aiming to empower individuals, form new angel groups, support startups, and lay the foundation for an enduring legacy of innovation. Our goal is to cultivate a diverse community that thrives well beyond the project’s conclusion, stimulating economic growth, generating high-tech jobs, and nurturing our rapidly expanding tech ecosystem.”

The programme will operate with key team members including a ‘Super Connector’ and an ‘Angel Lead’ and will target professional services firms, private banks, wealth managers, and Chamber of Commerce memberships, along with engaging second home communities. Working closely with local incubators, accelerators, science parks, universities, clusters, and other key players in the tech ecosystem, the scheme aims to identify investment opportunities and connect with the newly formed angel community.

Karl Tucker, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “The Angel Investor Programme promises to be a game-changer in our region’s economic growth, helping to address local funding challenges. We’re delighted to be supporting Tech South West to empower a diverse community of investors, fostering innovation, driving economic growth, and nurturing our expanding tech ecosystem for the long term.”

Cecilia Bufton, Dorset LEP Chair, said: “This new initiative from Tech South West and funded by Dorset LEP in partnership with the Great South West will be a game-changer for Dorset’s thriving tech sector. This programme will encourage new, local angel investors to come forward and invest locally to drive innovation and propel local businesses to new heights. This initiative will add significant value to the thriving ecosystem to further nurture and develop tech innovation and success right here in Dorset and across the Great South West.”

As well as the 40 new angel investors, the initiative also intends to establish four new Angel Groups, spanning Dorset, Cornwall, and the Heart of the South West LEP areas, with one group dedicated to women investors, and support 68 individuals in becoming investor-ready through the UKBAA’s online Angel Education Programme. The programme will also provide 50 founders and startups with valuable access to the angel community, facilitating growth and collaboration.

Glenn Caplin-Grey, Chief Executive of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Angel investment can be a powerful catalyst for growth and we know from the success of the LEP-backed Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund that equity investment can make a huge difference to a business, helping to build resilience and drive innovation. We want to see more angel investment in our area and are pleased to be supporting this important initiative.”

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