A new business angel network aims to boost the North’s technology sector by bringing together early-stage companies with experienced entrepreneurs who can provide investment and support.
Dow Schofield Watts Angels aims to provide a strong and active angel network similar to those in Scotland and Cambridge, where angels have played a key role in the growth of the tech sector.
It has the support of many high-profile Northern entrepreneurs including Peter Mansfield of Leeds-based Callcredit, Bill Ainscough of Wainhomes, Richard Law of GB Group and Anthony Molloy of Daisy Group.
The network has been launched by independent advisory firm Dow Schofield Watts and will be led by David Smith, who heads the firm’s technology team and who formerly managed the North West Fund for Digital & Creative. He will work closely with the teams in Dow Schofield Watts offices in Leeds and Daresbury to source both investment opportunities and investors.
Dow Schofield Watts Angels aims to address the funding gap for early stage technology investments across the Northern Powerhouse region. It will focus on promising early-stage technology businesses, particularly those with early revenues but which fall short of the size criteria of most tech venture capital investors.
Membership is open to new and existing angel investors, and requires no commitment or fees. A committee of members will help to select investment opportunities which are circulated among the network, with most of them likely to qualify for EIS tax relief.
Initially the network will invest up to £500k in each business, with the minimum contribution from each angel set at just £10,000. Dow Schofield Watts Angels will also look to co-invest with other funders where appropriate.
David Smith said: “The North has no equivalent of the successful angel groups in Edinburgh or Cambridge and, with the venture capital industry largely focused on London, there is a funding gap for early-stage tech companies in the North. However we do have plenty of successful entrepreneurs, some of whom have been through the entire growth cycle of building and selling a business, and are willing to invest time and money in helping others.
“Dow Schofield Watts Angels will bring together entrepreneurs with fledgling businesses in need of funding and support. We aim to build a strong angel network that will be instrumental in driving the growth of the North’s technology sector.”
Roger Esler, corporate finance director at Dow Schofield Watts in Yorkshire & the North East, said: “This is a cross-Pennine initiative to provide the market with access to expertise in a very specialist sector and to provide capital at what is a very pivotal stage in a business’s development.”