Growing tech companies have much to gain from the company of Angels
For small business in Warwickshire needing financial and mentorial support, or for potential Angel Investors looking for a project, a solution might be on their doorstep. Alex Toft, head of Minerva Business Angels which is part of the University of Warwick Science Park, explains.
"Minerva’s model is to bring exciting and fast-growing tech companies, pre-vetted and curated to be investment-ready, to its investor community."
Minerva Business Angels is one of the University of Warwick’s fastest-growing activities. Started in 1994 by the University of Warwick Science Park to support its tenants, it has grown to become one of the UK’s largest syndicated angel networks.
Minerva supports start-ups and scale-up businesses who are seeking anything between £150,000 and £2m and our Angels have invested in more than 80 companies, helping support the raising of over £40m as a result.
Minerva’s model is to bring exciting and fast-growing tech companies,pre-vetted and curated to be investment-ready, to its investor community which meets collectively to evaluate the opportunity. Minerva is based in ten locations and links everybody through an online Angel Platform. Angels can thus evaluate companies remotely or collectively, and we interconnect all interested parties.
Founded at the University of Warwick’s Science Park, Minerva was a originally a Midlands-based organisation operating five syndicates: University of Warwick, Hagley Hall, Gloucester, Loughborough University and Wroxall (an associate member). We are now creating new partnerships, working with universities and enterprise hubs nationwide to grow our successful model, spread the word about becoming an Angel investor, and help more entrepreneurs and start-up firms access to finance and business expertise.
Business and investors in Coventry and Warwickshire have been at the heart of what we do and we want that to remain so. In 2017, the HMRC noted that, of the £1.8bn invested through the Enterprise Investment Schemes (an excellent tax relief incentive scheme to help mitigate the investment risk in SMEs), £1bn was invested in the south-east, with the majority going to London based companies. Around 2.6% is invested in the West Midlands and 2% in the East Midlands.Helping to address this regional disparity and stem the potential loss of skills, jobs, and companies to down south is a key objective for Minerva.
We seek to tap into that latent capacity of those investors who traditionally have never thought about working as a collective to invests in fast-growing companies and new novel technology.Our Angels are from a variety of backgrounds, be it business owners, self-madeentrepreneursor former executives. Our experience base is wide (our youngest is below 30) and, increasingly, female entrepreneurs are joining our ranks. While all angels must self-certify their investment experience, we seek to work to a minimum investment threshold of £5,000 and low joining fees.
Angels can be passive or active investors, but many are keen to get involved and participate in extracurricular activities, which they enjoy, which fuels further involvement.So we not only support SMEs but play an active role in helping develop entrepreneurs of the future.
For the companies we support, we provide an unrivalled pool of mentors, contacts and connectivity plus access to finance.Minerva has been a keen supporter of Warwickshire businesses with its Angels investing in a wide selection, including Section Clothing (an online retailer), Moasure (the Hottest Start-Up at Launchit Consumer Electronics Show 2019),Medherant(a MedTech company with a new drug delivery mechanism in the form of a patch) and Genesis Technologies delivering more efficient broadband down copper wires.
But we want see more of our local businesses coming forward to utilise our angel network to facilitate their growth and compete more effectively through investment, by accessing our Angel’s experience and contacts. Across the county there are also some amazing support initiatives to help businesses become investment ready, such as the Science Park’s Business Ready programme runin collaboration with Warwickshire County Councilout of the University of Warwick Science Park.
Just as importantly we need those entrepreneurs, self-made individuals, and former company executives to join our Angel network to help both start-ups and scale-up companies on their journey.
Becoming involved as an Angel provides many returns - hopefully not only financially. It's an exciting opportunity to “give back” and support a fantastic initiative lead by the University of Warwick Science Park. You get to work with like-minded individuals for a common cause - creating successful opportunities.
Anyone interested in finding out more about Minerva Business Angels can contact:Support@minerva.uk.net