A new investment platform has launched in an effort to boost opportunities for Northern technology firms.
NorthInvest, a not-for-profit mutual founded by digital entrepreneur Dr Adam Beaumont, aims to make it easier for the region’s start-ups to access crucial early funding and free business advice and support.
The platform connects angel investors with ventures in the North, some of which have historically struggled to compete for cash against the more prominent digital community in London.
It has already gained the backing of Leeds City Council, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, KPMG and the UK Business Angels Association.
Dr Beaumont, chief executive at telecommunications firm aql, said there has been a lack of visibility for the angel investment community in the North. He said companies must know where they can find early-stage investment in order to grow.
Dr Beaumont added: “While we may have tech incubators providing space to look after businesses, we need to make sure as we grow skills, they’ve got a reason to stay in the region.”
As well as connecting businesses with angel investors, NorthInvest includes a regulated investment platform that provides access to money from institutionally-backed funds – such as pension funds – which can be secured through debt or equity lending.
In future, it also hopes to pair up private investment with public grants, Dr Beaumont said. This would see private angel investment topped up through matched or ratio funding with public funding schemes, such as those available through the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The platform has signed up 12 angels to date, including big names from the angel sector.
The platform has been called NorthInvest to highlight the importance of boosting the digital economy throughout the North, Dr Beaumont said.
He added: “I don’t believe in city boundaries. We’re trying to open up investment opportunities in the whole North of England. That aligns with the Government aspirations for the growth of the Northern Powerhouse.”
NorthInvest has been founded as a not-for-profit mutual, following the success of a previous aql-backed initiative, IXLeeds. IXLeeds is one of three internet exchange operators in the UK and the only operator based outside of London. It promotes regional cooperation between operators to improve digital infrastructure.