Avanite founders Peter Jones, left, and Francesco Giarletta.

Angel network for northern tech firms proves a huge hit

Less than nine months since the launch of Dow Schofield Watt Angels, the network has received over 200 applications from would-be investors looking to join.

Financial advisory firm Dow Schofield Watts launched the Dow Schofield Watt Angels Network in a bid to support innovative tech firms across northern England.

Angels are offered pre-screened investment opportunities and can choose whether or not to participate in any funding round.

Launched just under nine months ago, the network now has 100 active investors and has another 100 applications from high-net worth individuals waiting to be processed.

Its first deal - a £500,000 investment in Warrington-based software company Avanite - completed last month and was backed by 30 angels.

David Smith, who leads the network, said: “While Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) relief is the primary driver for some angel investors, for many, it is the excitement and sense of satisfaction that comes from taking control of your own investments – choosing the right business and helping it to achieve success.

“Angel investing across a portfolio allows entrepreneurs and executives who have exited their previous demanding roles to re-create the challenges and rewards of building a successful business.

“However angel investing is, by definition, a risky business and no matter how hard you try, you never remove the risk entirely. Therefore investors should always go into it with their eyes wide open and tax breaks should never be the sole reason for any investment.”

James Dow, founding partner of Dow Schofield Watts, said the response demonstrated that the Northern Powerhouse needed an angel network to act as a conduit linking investment with opportunity.

“For centuries, wealthy investors have backed new business opportunities,” he said. “The difference today is technology. Not only has technology spawned many more businesses with exceptional growth opportunities, but it has enabled angels to see them.

“The number and breadth of investment opportunities which we have screened and the number of angels coming forward demonstrates that the Dow Schofield Watts Angel network is providing a vital role in connecting the two.”