Entrepreneurs of the North seek London funders

Simon Green addresses the audience

Entrepreneurs of the North seek London funders

A delegation of regional entrepreneurs from the North of England have descended on London, to pitch to a roomful of heavyweight investors they wouldn’t ordinarily have met.

Eleven businesses from across the North East took part in the Entrepreneurs of the North event – a unique opportunity to meet a panel of 75 London-based investors who were actively seeking new companies in which to invest.

The investors ranged from angel investors interested in early stage ideas through to very large international funds. There was also representation from Asian and US-based funds.

The event was organised by Innovation SuperNetwork North East England as part of FinanceCamp, its programme dedicated to helping businesses get hold of the money they need to grow.

Simon Green, executive director at Innovation SuperNetwork, said: "We work every day with exciting North East businesses, from tech start-ups to established manufacturers, who have enormous ambition and potential but struggle to raise the funding they need.

"While there is access to a range of funding at early stages there is a lack of options for that crucial next stage. This event was all about broadening the options available to high-potential entrepreneurs to allow them to effectively grow and scale their businesses by accessing the critical mass of investment that is accumulated in the capital.

"We're really looking forward to hearing about successful deals in the coming months and hope we've succeeded in convincing investors it's worth their while continuing a relationship with us so we can introduce them to more exciting businesses at FinanceCamp and VentureFest."

The North East businesses cover a wide range of sectors including life sciences, education, digital, healthcare and human resources.

All entrepreneurs were given the opportunity to develop their business propositions and polish their pitches with presentation expert Dan Bond in advance of meeting the investors to increase their chances of securing funding.

On the day the companies were given a chance to showcase their ideas during an exhibition, before presenting their propositions in a 60 second pitch and finally meeting interested investors face to face.

Dr Mike Nicholds, chief executive officer at Newcells Biotech in Newcastle attended the event with the aim of raising at least £0.5m to accelerate the growth of the business which provides products and services that improve the efficiency of drug discovery.

He said: "As a company in a relatively specialised life science sector with potential multi-million pound investment needs, we need access to investors with both domain knowledge and follow-on funds.

"Currently the majority of these type of life science investors and based in London so exposure to this community was key for us and we made some promising connections. Investment of this level at this time would accelerate our growth in a market that is showing double digit growth. The experience was energising and useful to gather information about investors' priorities."

Feedback from the London investors was excellent, with potential deals identified for most of the North East companies. Rich McNally, chief research and investment officer at City of London-based Niche Invest, said: "We identified a couple of really interesting companies through the event that we wouldn't otherwise have met. It's a great format to see lots of Northern businesses in one afternoon and we would be keen to be involved in future events of this type."

FinanceCamp has opened registrations for its 2017 event, which will be held on Wednesday 24 May. Visit financecamp.co.uk to book a place to meet with lenders who want to lend and investors who want to invest.