TechSPARK has launched a pioneering programme to help catalyse investment into fast growing start-ups in the West of England region. The programme is the first of its kind in the UK and will launch activities to increase the flow of money into the area and showcase the region as a leading start-up hub
The Investment Activator Programme (IAP) will begin as a 2 year pilot bringing together 8 public and private sector organisations who recognise the impact of working collaboratively to strengthen the ecosystem and jointly deliver activity.
In the last few years Bristol has seen a dramatic rise in the level of investment into the city’s businesses and in 2019 outperformed the likes of Dublin, Zurich, Amsterdam, Oxford and Brussels. However there’s still a long way to go before the regions can compete with more traditional investment hubs like London where over $8.2bn raised this year versus $418m locally.
Investment Activator Briony Phillips said “According to the UKBAA, we have the third largest community of angel investors (early stage) in the UK, behind London and the South East. And yet 85% of the angel investment from our region goes into the golden triangle of London, Cambridge and Oxford.”
“Little do they know that Graphcore and Ovo Energy are Bristol-grown unicorns, and UltraLeap, Blu Wireless, Immersive Labs and Open Bionics are just a few examples of real power-hitters when it comes to raising investment and making their mark on the global tech scene. The Investment Activator programme will add some much-needed capacity to help solve this challenge.”
The programme will build on some of the work done by TechSPARK and Engine Shed by expanding on the successful Silicon Gorge pitch competition which has worked with over 250 companies pitching for over £150 million between them, and the Quarterly Investment Briefing (QIB) events, which has brought together over 300 investors to network, share knowledge and learn about potential investment opportunities.
The West of England Combined Authority is co-funding the Investment Activator role as part of its support for the region’s creative industry.
West of England Mayor Tim Bowles said: “We’re keen to build on the successful business investment landscape in the West of England and are supporting the Investment Activator to focus on our region’s creative sector companies. This will help them to seek investment to drive new deals, forge positive relationships with new investors and help creative companies to improve their pitching, through experience of events like Silicon Gorge.
“TechSPARK already plays an important role in the investment ecosystem and we are pleased to be able to support this new Activator role, alongside our private sector partners. We are looking forward to seeing even more successes which show how our local investor networks are supporting growing companies in the West of England’s important creative sector cluster.”
The Investment Activator Programme has three areas of delivery – Events / Content and Community / Data and Connections – with the core objectives being:
- To accelerate and catalyse the investment ecosystem
- To make investment support more accessible for founders
- To build the network of investors and founders or leaders locally
The programme will deliver over 30 targeted investment events, articles and tools to support founders raising money. It will offer a relationship management programme to build connections with investors across the UK and showcase the opportunities in the West on a national stage.
The programme has specialist partners including Delaware (enterprise software), Engine Shed (economic development), Rocketmakers (Venturetech), Sanderson (talent), Smith & Williamson (accounting), TLT (legal), University of the West of England (UWE) & the West of England Combined Authority (Business Support).