In The Spotlight with Innovation Manager Karl Murray
11 Dec 2023
15 December 2023
Business Finance Week is a week-long event programme hosted by British Business Bank, with the goal of helping smaller businesses learn about the different financing options available to them.
Through this, British Business Bank collaborates with several of their partners to host free-of-charge in-person events and webinars, both regionally and nationwide. As longstanding Access to Finance partners, Innovation SuperNetwork were approach by British Business Bank to host an event in the North East.
Together we developed the idea of putting on a day long event that highlighted and responded to some of the key needs that the North East has when it comes to access to funding, in particular innovation funding. This event would be aimed at starting up and scaling businesses, offering them insights and advice, and the opportunity to network amongst businesses and investors.
“I’m truly honoured to have been part of the Business Finance Week 2023 event with British Business Bank hosted by Innovation SuperNetwork It was a remarkable experience to witness and be among the incredible businesses that pitched their innovative ideas. The energy in the room was palpable, and every presentation left me inspired and enthusiastic about the future of these businesses.”
– Eric Guo, Founder, SPARK EPoS
Using our expert team, we tackled some of the key issues at the heart of the region’s business investment.
Investor Relations Manager, Charlotte Scott and Innovation Manager, Parveer Pannu hosted Scaling your business: where to look for finance, from angel investment to venture capital, which brought together a panel of businesses and funders to discuss how grants can help leverage equity investment, and the different funding options available to them.
Innovation Managers, Andrew Hodgson and Karl Murray also hosted Choosing the right path: navigating the funding landscape for your early-stage business, a session aimed at helping start ups assess where they are in terms of investment readiness and help them come up with a plan to get their business investor ready through advice and guidance.
We also wanted to highlight some of the exciting work happening within the North East. Several businesses who have worked with Innovation SuperNetwork got the opportunity to pitch in front of a wide ranging audience of other business founders and investors and host a stand throughout our event. We were also joined by key note speaker Debra Leeves, Chair of Atelerix, who spoke about the highs and lows of attracting investment as an innovation start up, and her experiences as both an investor and business owner.
“We had some exciting conversations. It felt fantastic to be surrounded by people who are focused on improving the opportunities in our region.”
– Matty Gray, CEO, GIGCO
A key part of the day’s events was our round table discussion Unlocking Innovation Finance. Bringing together stakeholders and investors from across the North East, this round table aimed to explore innovation across the region and some of the barriers to accessing finance and support.
The round table highlighted several key takeaways from the current state of business innovation finance.
Green Investment and Innovating for the Future
The North East has the capacity to support the whole life cycle of electric vehicles, with a huge amount of highly skilled people working in the region, and access to asset rich opportunities such as Port of Tyne. However, there is work to do to transition skills towards a green economy, and make financing options widely available, whilst also encouraging smaller businesses who are looking for net zero solutions now and in the future.
Investing in Innovation Businesses in the North East
It is considerably harder for businesses based in the North to access funding compared to those based in the South. This is down to the lack of angel investors and syndicates based in the North, meaning many businesses need to travel to expand their options. Innovation in the North is successful but lacks visibility on a national scale to attract investors based elsewhere. Therefore, there is a great need to create better access to funding at all business stages and promote the work happening in the North East on a wider scale.
There is a need for more seed and start-up funding in the ecosystem with public investment supporting and helping to leverage more private investment. Investment funding and connectivity can help start ups access opportunities beyond the money, create more positive competitiveness and articulate financial journeys better.
Supporting Underserved Founders
There is a need for more support aimed at under-represented business founders. Support is needed to improve awareness and trust of financial options available to them through education. However, there is also a need to work with investors to help them expand the type of business and founder that they work with and encourage them to consider options they would traditionally pass up on.
“The British Business Bank really set the foundation around the help for early businesses and Louis Taylor set the tone for the day.”
– Stephen Mitchell, Founder, SQCDP
Louis Taylor, CEO of British Business Bank, provided some key insight into the business finance sector in his introduction of the event. He recognized the high levels of innovation within Tyne and Wear (with the region being 5th largest innovation led cluster in the country) and highlighted main theme of the event, which is the need to create more opportunities for businesses and investors to connect and share knowledge, something which both British Business Bank and Innovation SuperNetwork are working hard towards achieving.
The event was a great success, with a high number of attendees joining us for the full day of activity, making it one of the best attended events of Business Finance Week 2023. The mix of workshops and networking opportunities brought together businesses and investors in a shared space, facilitating key conversations. Attendees found that the event set the foundation for further discussion around financing small businesses, particularly in the North East, and put innovation at the heart of the conversation.
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