Summit looks at how the North can forge a path to tackle the funding gap in innovation
A new investment summit with the aim of bringing national policy makers together with equity investors, fund managers, big business, and Innovative SMEs will take place this autumn.
The Accelerating Investment and Innovation Summit, organised by the Innovation SuperNetwork, will be delivered entirely online as a virtual event. It will look at how investment and innovation can accelerate the recovery from COVID-19 and prepare regional economies for the onset of Brexit.
The launch of the event is timely following the publication of The Future of Growth Capital report yesterday, (5th August). It calls for urgent action to close the UK’s growth capital gap amounting to an emerging £15bn, according to Innovate Finance, the ScaleUp Institute and Deloitte who have released the findings.
Estelle Blanks, Executive Director at the Innovation SuperNetwork said: “The pandemic has had an untold and ongoing impact on global economies, and at the same time UK industry is preparing to leave the EU. The pipeline of innovative businesses in the North East is stronger than ever, and the volume of innovation taking place has only increased as companies pivot in response to Coronavirus. Whilst this is good news, the funding landscape against which businesses in the North East are supported to innovate is substantially underfunded.”
The 2017 Beauhurst Funding Innovation report also highlighted the staggering regional imbalances that exist in the UK with regards to innovation finance. It suggested that the North East receives less than 4% of the total innovation grant and equity funding available in the UK. The gap was further highlighted in a recent Nesta report (The Missing £4 billion, May 2020), which suggests an investment of £1.6bn is needed in the North to help rebalance national spend in Research & Development.
The Summit will take place on Tuesday 29th September. Confirmed speakers include, Dr. Henry Kippin, Director of Economic Growth at the North of Tyne Combined Authority; Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Henri Murison; seasoned Angel Investor, Meganne Houghton-Berry; and Henry Whorwood, Head of Research and Consultancy at investment insight and analytics firm Beauhurst.
The Innovation SuperNetwork is based in the North East and partners with regional and national investor syndicates to deliver a range of access to finance activity for growing innovative SMEs. The Accelerating Investment and Innovation Summit is designed to build on the strength of our collaborative approach to securing finance for business and cement the region as a place of opportunity for ambitious businesses and investors alike.
Estelle, added: “Our programme of work was launched in 2016 with a clear aim of building a diverse investor community in the North East and connecting innovative businesses with the equity investment and grant or loan funding they needed to grow. This has been hugely successful, supporting several hundred businesses on their funding journeys and helping to establish an investor network in the region through the Newcastle Angel Hub.
“Whilst there is substantial opportunity for, and appetite from, equity investors to work with regional start-ups and growing innovative businesses, the innovation funding gap remains a huge issue for regional economies. The Accelerating Investment and Innovation Summit is designed to raise a voice about these challenges and opportunities.”
The Summit also comes on the back of work delivered by the SuperNetwork in partnership with the North East BIC, Leeds-based NorthInvest and the national UKBAA to deliver a Regional Angel Investment Accelerator (RAIA), funded by Innovate UK. The pilot has successfully supported Angel investment into seven businesses from across the wider North of England including Durham-based Evince.
A total of £710k of Angel investment has been raised alongside the Innovate UK grant and other investors, with the Newcastle and Leeds Angel Hubs working with a significant pipeline of opportunities.
Jordan Dargue, Access to Finance Manager at Innovation SuperNetwork, said: “Innovate UK gave us £1m to support Angel investment in Innovative North businesses. The project was supposed to run for two years, but the demand from investors and the quality of businesses coming out of the North means we have been able to fulfil the entire grant spend in less than half the allotted project time. We now need to work with Innovate UK, the investor network, and the businesses themselves to ensure they can secure the finance they need.
“This remains a challenge, but we’re hoping that by hosting the summit, which has both a national emphasis and a remit to promote regional growth, we can move the conversation forward in terms of ensuring adequate amounts of Innovation funding are funnelled North.”
The Summit will close with a pitch event exclusively for innovative North East SMEs, allowing them to pitch to some of the national and regional investors in attendance on the day.