Estelle is executive director of the Innovation SuperNetwork, which works to support business growth by embedding innovative practice, including the delivery of access to finance events, such as Entrepreneurs of the North and FinanceCamp.
This week we announced that Jenny Campbell – entrepreneur and investor on BBC’s Dragon’s Den - will be joining Chris Reed from Proxismart at our upcoming FinanceCamp conference.
An inspirational business person, Jenny offered Chris an investment deal in the Den earlier this year. The opportunity highlights how an engaging idea and a solid pitch can give businesses a chance to build great investor relationships and secure funding.
But here in the North, it can feel like reaching that podium is more challenging. Data from Beauhurst shows UK businesses saw the highest levels of investment on record in 2017. Despite this, investment levels across the North East fell dramatically by 34%. The data also shows that public sector backed investment fell across the country. But whilst other regions compensated with private investment, this didn’t happen in the North East.
Yet, in another piece of research conducted by the British Business Bank and the UK Business Angels Association, a ‘difficulty in identifying good investment opportunities’ was highlighted as a bigger concern for angels located in London and the South East than those based regionally.
And this is where regional entrepreneurs and scaling businesses can see opportunity, so what’s stopping them?
The truly ambitious, can take fast-growing enterprises and make it on a global stage, and these are the stories that investors want to be a part of.
Most business founders only raise serious finance once or twice in their working lives, so they can’t be experts in the process. Understanding the investor landscape, the funding and finance options available, is vital to achieving success.
Using evidence and demonstrating your grasp of risk and opportunity in telling your story is crucial. Whether an hour-long presentation or a 60-second pitch, communicating your business in a way that engages and excites potential investors matters.
Access to investors
The fact is, there are fewer active investors in the North than in the South East. This is true of institutions (like venture capital funds), and private angel investors. We’re working hard to tackle this and have recently announced new funding from Innovate UK to help us increase the number of active Angel investors in the North to support early-stage investment in businesses. Though work on this agenda is underway, it remains for Northern businesses who are serious about raising funds to get in front of geographically dispersed decision makers.
In order to support the success of more high-growth businesses, there is a real need to increase diversity across the investment landscape. Research shows that while male and female backed companies grow at a roughly similar rate - for every pound invested by private equity funders into high-growth businesses, less than 6p went to female-led businesses and only 14% of angel investors in the UK are women.
The challenge for regional companies is real. Funds like the North East Fund go some way towards redressing the balance. But more needs to be done to bridge the early stage equity finance gap and facilitate co-investment opportunities.
This is where events, like FinanceCamp North East, provide an opportunity for ambitious businesses to put the time in to securing investment.
Preparing companies to maximise their chances of securing the funds they need, our pre-event workshops are delivered in partnership with experts in a range of professional fields and focus on strengthening the businesses’ proposition, considering different finance options and understanding investor needs.
North East businesses of any size or sector can apply to be considered to take part - whether an entrepreneur looking for a £1,000 start-up loan or an established business searching for multimillion-pound equity funding.
FinanceCamp takes place on Wednesday 22 May 2019 at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland. Businesses are urged to sign up before the 8th May to take advantage of our next preparation workshop.
To apply to take part, register via Eventbrite.
FinanceCamp North East is part of the wider Innovation SuperNetwork programme, delivered with over 60 partner organisations to support innovation in the North East. SuperNetwork is supported by the North East LEP, Innovate UK, Northumbrian Water, Engie and the North East BIC, with part-funding from the European Regional Development Fund.
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