UK first as Bristol & Bath region creates programme to increase investment into successful start-up community

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Investment Activation Programme

Launching today (14/01/2020), UWE Bristol will partner with TechSPARK to deliver a pioneering programme to help catalyse investment into  fast-growing startups in Bristol, Bath and the West of England. The programme is the first of its kind in the UK and will launch activities to increase the flow of money into the area and showcase the region as a leading start-up hub.

The Investment Activator Programme (IAP) will begin as a 2 year pilot bringing together 8 public and private sector organisations who recognise the impact of working collaboratively to strengthen the ecosystem and jointly deliver activity. 

In the last few years Bristol has seen a dramatic rise in the level of investment into the city’s businesses and in 2019 outperformed the likes of Dublin, Zurich, Amsterdam, Oxford and Brussels. However there’s still a long way to go before the regions can compete with more traditional investment hubs like London where over $8.2bn raised this year versus $418m locally.

Investment Activator Briony Phillips said “According to the UKBAA, we have the third largest community of angel investors (early stage) in the UK, behind London and the South East. And yet 85% of the angel investment from our region goes into the golden triangle of London, Cambridge and Oxford.” 

“Little do they know that Graphcore and Ovo Energy are Bristol-grown unicorns, and Ultrahaptics, Blu Wireless, Immersive Labs and Open Bionics are just a few examples of real power-hitters when it comes to raising investment and making their mark on the global tech scene. The Investment Activator programme will add some much-needed capacity to help solve this challenge.”

The programme will build on some of the work done by TechSPARK and Engine Shed by expanding on the successful Silicon Gorge pitch competition which has worked with over 250 companies pitching for over £150 million between them, and the Quarterly Investment Briefing (QIB) events, which has  brought together over 300 investors to network, share knowledge and learn about potential investment opportunities.

The IAP has three areas of delivery – Events / Content and Community / Data and Connections – with the core objectives being:

  • To accelerate and catalyse the investment ecosystem 
  • To make investment support more accessible for founders
  • To build the network of investors and founders or leaders locally

The programme will deliver over 30 targeted investment events, articles and tools to support founders raising money. It will offer a relationship management programme to build connections with investors across the UK and showcase the opportunities in the West on a national stage.  

Tracey John, Director of Business and Innovation at UWE Bristol says: “We are really excited to be supporting the new Investment Activator Programme. The start-up ecosystem in the West of England needs initiatives that bring startups and early stage companies together with investors; investors who not only provide access to funds, but also offer real business experience that is invaluable to any early stage growth company. We have over 85 high tech businesses in the University Enterprise Zone at our Frenchay Campus and are excited to see the IAP support their growth.”

Other specialist partners for the programme include Delaware (enterprise software), Engine Shed (economic development), Rocketmakers (Venturetech), Sanderson (talent), Smith & Williamson (accounting), TLT (legal) & the West of England Combined Authority (Business Support).