The University of Essex is launching the Angels@Essex investment platform to support entrepreneurs with innovative and market-disrupting business ideas by giving them access to a network of investors.
Angels@Essex aims to help develop and grow the regional economy by giving start-ups access to angel investment opportunities.
Angel investors are high net worth individuals, syndicates or organisations who take an equity share in a business in exchange for providing funding. They can also offer experience and support alongside their investment.
Companies already on the platform, created in partnership with sector specialist Delio, include AI powered song search platform MyPart; secure data storage innovator Anzen Technology; immersive B2B learning platform BODYSWAPS®; and mobile ordering software developer Wi-Q.
The Angels@Essex team is particularly interested in projects from the creative digital sector or integrating augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Potential investors can contact the team to join the network of investors on its platform so they can view and support the latest opportunities.
Business Support Manager John Stenhouse, who is leading the Angels@Essex project, said: “At this challenging time it is still important to look to the future, to identify and back the potential technologies, products and services which will transform our lives, disrupt markets and unlock new business opportunities.
“New ideas will play an important part in rebuilding our economy and Angels@Essex will nurture those ideas. We hope these ideas will also help create a more sustainable future which is better for the economy as a whole.”
The University was awarded University Enterprise Zone (UEZ) status by Research England and Angels@Essex is one of the key UEZ initiatives developed to drive forward business in the region. Other UEZ projects, based at the Innovation Centre at the Knowledge Gateway research and technology park, include the Space to Grow programme which provides in-depth support and training for entrepreneurs in the creative digital sector.
Angels@Essex is now inviting entrepreneurs to submit opportunities for investment onto its Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulated platform, which will then allow investors to review them.
Four opportunities have already been added to the platform and Angels@Essex is aiming to on-board ten opportunities by the summer.
The network of potential investors being created by Angels@Essex will include high net worth individuals, professional investors and syndicates who can access the platform to review existing and future opportunities. Help and support can also be provided to those new to investing in seed ventures.
Researchers at Essex Business School identified in a 2019 report commissioned by Invest Essex that there was a need in Essex for an equity investment platform for innovative and high growth businesses. Angels@Essex platform responds to this gap in business support across Essex.
Angels@Essex is also responding to new market conditions and investment trends caused by COVID-19.
John said: “The UK’s investor community is having to improve its co-investing activity which lends itself to platforms such as Angels@Essex, which allow co-investment to take place more easily. We can see an emerging trend which suggests investors are now adopting longer term thinking, a sense of realism in valuations and paring back their expectations. Investors are also very attracted by the direct to consumer digital marketplaces.”
Access to the platform for entrepreneurs and investors is by invitation only. Entrepreneurs can request to join the platform by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org Investors can find out more by emailing the team or visit the sign-up page at: https://angels.essex.ac.uk/#/page/sign-up