West Midlands business leaders, entrepreneurs and investors have welcomed the launch of a new angel investment network for the region.
Minerva Birmingham, a new collaboration between Aston University, University of Birmingham and Minerva Business Angels, part of the University of Warwick Science Park, held its inaugural pitching event at Aston University on 9 April.
The launch event was formally opened by Professor George Feiger, Executive Dean of Aston Business School, and attended by more than 80 delegates.
Recalling how surprised he was on arriving in the UK from San Francisco and finding how little funding was available in the region for any start-ups, Professor Feiger highlighted the importance of innovative finance initiatives in supporting our local entrepreneurs, and said:
“ Aston enthusiastically supports the formation of the Minerva Birmingham Angel group. We have longstanding deep connections to small business and entrepreneurship in our city, our region and the country at large. Working with our partners to further develop this initiative will support entrepreneurs in our networks to pitch for investment and increase the level of knowledge and activity around early stage investment in our region.”
Liz McKenzie, 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:
“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.”
David Coleman, Head of Enterprise Acceleration at University of Birmingham Enterprise, added:
“We are very conscious that Minerva Birmingham will help promote our regional businesses as well as our spinouts to those outside the region, particularly in London and the South East, who are willing and able to invest. But we also want to encourage and develop our own locally based angel investors who a passion to help our regional businesses, but perhaps don’t know about or who have yet to explore the opportunities on offer.”
Eileen Schofield, Chair of Birmingham Law Society, described the event as:
"A great initiative to help breakdown those barriers for both companies to raise money for growth and investors to come forward. I hope to see more of these events which reach a wider group of business and investors with the support and backing of Minerva business angels."
A key function of the new group is also to raise the profile of the opportunities to be gained both for growth companies and potential investors within the Midlands and to work at countering the regional difference between the Midlands and the South East. From £1.8bln invested through to Enterprise investment scheme in 2017 only around 2.6% was invested in the West Midlands versus 56% in the South East – the majority being London based companies. Improving the investment culture in the Midlands is a key challenge for the new group.
All four companies who pitched at the launch event received expressions of interest and look forward to working with that interest.
Minerva Birmingham plans further events including embarking on a programme to provide training for those interested in becoming an Angel investor.
Minerva Birmingham’s next event will be in June and anybody interested in becoming an investor should contact them at email@example.com. Companies should apply through the Minerva website www.minerva.uk.net
This release was first published 17 April 2019 by the University of Birmingham.