In the spotlight with Leanne Miller, our Digital Programme Manager
08 Aug 2022
11 August 2022
A specialist business support organisation is celebrating after leveraging more than £25m in investment for North East companies in the last three years.
Through the Newcastle Angel Hub the Innovation SuperNetwork has supported 58 North East businesses with investor readiness activities and helped them leverage £25m in equity investment since launching in July 2019.
Estelle Blanks, CEO at the Innovation SuperNetwork said, “It’s three years since we hosted the first Newcastle Angel Hub pitch event. It’s been an unprecedented business environment with a global pandemic in full swing, but the innovation coming out of the region’s business community has remained strong.”
Around 42% of North East businesses consider themselves to be ‘innovation active’, although this is higher than the national average, the region still sees less investment by industry in Research & Development (R&D) activities. One reason for this is North East businesses receive less innovation finance, including equity investment by angels and VC funds.
“This is a key area we are committed to addressing by enabling the right opportunities through a robust innovation ecosystem in the region,” continues Estelle. “We are always looking for new ways of working with policy makers and funders to ensure the right opportunities are on offer for regional entrepreneurs. To see £25m leveraged since 2019 is a significant achievement.”
Investor pitch events are hosted jointly by the Newcastle Angel Hub and NorthInvest. One business to have seen significant sums of money invested with the help of the SuperNetwork is Dyman Advanced Materials, a synthetic diamond manufacturer based in County Durham.
Dr Gary Gibson, founder of Dyman said: “The Innovation SuperNetwork has helped us secure over £1m in equity investment through four funding rounds. As a start-up we secured our first £65k in January 2020 through the Newcastle Angel Hub. This initial investment helped us to develop a proof of concept to further our business development.
“Since then the knowledge and support of the SuperNetwork has helped us to identify the investors who are right for our businesses. Their guidance and training has ensured we’ve been able to pitch our offer effectively, and we’re looking forward to further growth and success as a result.”
Innovation SuperNetwork delivers a number of initiatives, designed to help North East businesses succeed, grow and build a sustainable and competitive presence in national and global markets. Alongside an established Innovation Finance programme, this includes specialist Innovation Support and Challenge-led Innovation missions delivered in collaboration with industry, academia and the public sector.
The organisation has supported more than 1200 North East businesses since 2016. Since 2018, it has enabled innovation growth in five key regional sectors (Digital, Advanced Manufacturing, Energy, Health & Life Sciences, and Social Enterprise & Voluntary), part-funding clusters and connecting growing businesses to support, new market opportunities and finance.
The Newcastle Angel Hub builds on a series of investor relations activity and opportunities for North East SMEs to access national equity investment. This includes deployment of the Innovate UK Regional Angel Investment Accelerator grant, which has deployed £5m of funding to date. It also builds on VentureFest North East (VFNE), a regional celebration of Innovation and an annual opportunity for businesses to showcase their products and connect with services, finance and each other. To date, VFNE has generated £3m in contract value for attending businesses.
SuperNetwork success in numbers:
The Innovation SuperNetwork delivers support to businesses across the North East as part of the Catalysing Innovation in North East Clusters Project 2021-2023, part-funded by ERDF. It also works in partnership to deliver a number of innovation programmes on behalf of the North of Tyne (NoT) Combined Authority (NTCA), including the NoT Innovation Recovery Grant, Challenge North Tyne and the Digital Cluster Development Project, part of the NTCA Digital Programme.
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