CHALLENGE SUMMARY: Access to Investment
A longstanding challenge for the region has been access to many forms of investment and this is no different for scale-up companies.
Investment through a scale-up lens
Unlocking investment is an incredibly time-consuming and complex activity. At the earlier stages, with only one regionally located angel network, securing angel investment relies heavily on personal relationships and network building. At the later stages, we now have a growing community of venture capital investors who are active and accessible in region, but there is still much work to be done courting investors in London and overseas often taking founders away from the everyday work of running the business. For later stage businesses and those seeking alternative finance options, the landscape looks a lot rosier with high street banks and platforms working hard to increase uptake. Many founders describe the local investment landscape is opaque and inactive. To compound the problem, those angels and high net worth individuals in the region who are investing are limited by the lack of deal-flow information available to them. There is a lack of regional investment funds to facilitate the flow of capital.
What has happened this year?
The Scale-up Enabler organised a Scale-up Briefing event focused on Raising £1M or more in January 2018. This was soon followed by the launch of the Quarterly Investment Briefing events and newsletters which are designed to invigorate the investment ecosystem bringing investors together irrespective of their mode of investment, to share good practice, learn about new initiatives and consider opportunities for investment. The Bristol Angel Hub launched at the same time, providing a focal point and community to build the profile, number and skills of the local angel investment community. Most recently the Scale-up Enabler mapped the finance ecosystem for the West of England via a simple series of slides and logos to bring all the key players into one place for the first time.
Mapping regional investment actors has been a priority for this work - to ascertain what's already here and to help identify the gaps. You can read more about this work here.
The British Business Bank will bring new support to the region through the recruitment of their regional team. This growing collaboration is an exciting opportunity for the region and for our investors. There is work to be done to design and deliver a series of events and training sessions for the Angel Hub. This would benefit from the input and support of an Angel Investor in Residence – a local, experienced angel investor who is willing to reinvest in the community and help support colleagues. The Scale-up Enabler has highlighted the need to expose deal-flow more effectively in the region and would like to create a ‘Deal Flow Analyst’ function for the region in partnership with a local sponsor. We would like to see a regional investment fund come to fruition and will continue to champion this with investors and investment managers.