A new angel investment network for the region has been created to improve the investment culture in the Midlands.
Minerva Nottingham, a new collaboration between the University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University and Minerva Business Angels, part of the University of Warwick Science Park, has now held its inaugural pitching event at NTU.
The new group aims to raise the profile of opportunities both for growth companies and potential investors in Nottingham and the wider D2N2 LEP area, and to close the gap in investment between the Midlands and the South East.
Of a total of £1.9bn invested through the Enterprise Investment Scheme in 2018, less than two per cent was invested in the East Midlands – compared to around 70 per cent in the South East and London, with the majority going to London-based companies.
The launch event was formally opened by Professor Nigel Wright, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at Nottingham Trent University, and Professor Lucy Donaldson, Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Nottingham. It was attended by more than 70 delegates.
Speaking at the launch, Professor Wrighthighlighted the importance of innovative finance initiatives in supporting local entrepreneurs. He said: “We are so pleased with the reception for the Minerva Nottingham initiative from the business and financial communities, as reflected by the attendance here tonight. Enterprise sits at the centre of the University and reaches out to engage with the business community and supports our student and academic enterprises.
“Our Enterprise Innovation Centre, currently under construction, is an integral part of our Enterprise plan to encourage investment and growth of entrepreneurism. Minerva Nottingham will sit at the heart of this strategy helping to deliver investment. The University of Nottingham has an enviable reputation for innovation and we are pleased to have it alongside us on this journey.”
Professor Lucy Donaldson said: “The University of Nottingham has a long history of entrepreneurism and innovation and is ranked second in the UK for its spin-out success, with companies generating over £150m in turnover.
“The companies I have been involved would never have succeeded if we didn’t get the initial investment and the critical act of faith from angel investors. It allowed us to grow and raise further funding. Angels are amazingly important assets, and I am glad to both support and be part of this Minerva Nottingham initiative.”
Liz McKenzie, an angel investor and Vice-Chair of the West Midlands Growth Company, spoke about her positive experience of being an investor and urged others to follow suit.
She said: “Being able to work as a collective with like-minded individuals from a broad church of experience who are all successful in their own right is great; it’s both effective and enjoyable. The way their connectivity assists growing companies is genuinely impressive. We need more Angels to come on board.”
Alex Toft, Head of Minerva, added: “This event is a great step in establishing a local network, which can link in with our other groups across the Midlands, North West and London. Through this connectivity and growing collective, we hope to offer a stronger support network and access to finance for all the businesses calling on us for support.
“We are keen to unlock that latent capacity of expertise, contacts and capital that remains untapped in our region which entrepreneurs would relish to access. Experience and expertise are just as valuable as financial support.”
All three companies who pitched at the launch – Footfalls and Heartbeats, Cognitive Business and YPP Group – received expressions of interest and say they look forward to working with that interest.
Companies seeking investment should apply through the Minerva website, at www.minerva.uk.net