West Coast Investors launches in the North West

West Coast Investors,which seeks to introduce potential private investors and successful entrepreneurs to businesses needing funding and business experience, launched on 20 May. 50 people attended the launch event, including a substantial number of high net worth investors companies who were attending with a view to becoming part of the investor group.

The launch day began with a breakfast at 60 Hope Street hosted by Professional Liverpool in conjunction with the University of Liverpool. Attending the breakfast on the invitation of Brabners and Brabners Stuart were angels, fund managers and other financiers, wealth and portfolio managers, universities and business growth facilitators from Liverpool Science Park and Sci-Tech Daresbury. The participants discussed West Coast Investors and the legacy of the UKBAA Investment Summit and Awards Gala Dinner being held in Liverpool on 1-2 July 2014 as part of the International Festival for Business. Guests were joined by speaker Jenny Tooth, CEO of UKBAA, who shared her vision and hopes for the two-day summit.

The actual launch on the evening of 22 May in Liverpool brought together angel investors, investee companies and the West Coast Investors partnering organisations. As well as informal discussions between the guests over a glass of wine, a succession of speakers provided a variety of insights and perspectives on angel investing.

Attendees heard from speakers including Jenny Tooth, CEO of UK Business Angels Association, who gave the audience an overview of the angel market place; Mark Basnett of Liverpool LEP, who spoke about the local outlook for angels; and experienced angel investor Nick Owen who talked about his experiences as an angel over the past two decades. Joint speakers Mike Norris and Kayer Raghavan discussed the benefits of an angel to the investee company and the role of a lead angel; and Neil Campbell, CEO of Mosaigen, spoke about harvesting and deal creation for the benefit of the investor.

Other speakers included David Owen, Director at Investec; Steve Charnock, Director at Seneca Partners and Murray Dalziel from the University of Liverpool.

Law firm Brabners and corporate finance firm Brabners Stuart have initiated the formation and launch of the network in collaboration with the Liverpool LEP. Partnering organisations from whom an advisory board shall be formed, include Merseyside Special Investment Fund, Investec, Spark Impact, Seneca and Acceleris Corporate Ventures, University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University. It is the aim of Brabners and Brabners Stuart that West Coast Investors shall remain as a long term legacy of the International Festival for Business, an institution in the public realm that can help to generate, attract and sustain high growth innovative businesses to the region making best use of the regions private wealth and experience.

There has been substantial support from the UK Business Angels Association for the project.

Mark Rathbone, Corporate Partner at Brabners said: “We have been working for the last couple of years with our partnering organisations and are very excited to have finally launched West Coast Investors now. Our focus has been to try to build the ecosystem that can help to sustain a healthy investor engagement in order to attract the investment of time and money of our successful entrepreneurs into our regional businesses. With the permanent structural changes to the funding climate directing funding decisions away from newer, riskier business, coupled with the need in Liverpool to build the numbers of quality, innovative SMEs, it is of great importance to the region that we can maximise funding from alternative sources and provide greater support for our budding entrepreneurs from those that have been there and done that before.”

Steve Stuart of Brabners Stuart added: “As ERDF support to SMEs begins to dwindle it is important the local market place wakes up to the various other forms of finance. Liverpool, starting from a low base, records the fastest growing city economy in the UK, outside of London, since 2008. It is imperative that SMEs have access to the appropriate capital to ensure this growth continues into the foreseeable future.”

By UKBAA 29 May 2014