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Angel Group members gather in London to share insights at The Angel Group Symposium

The Angel Group Symposium

Angel Group members gathered at the offices of Digital Catapult in London for the second annual Angel Group Symposium on Tuesday 16th April 2024. In partnership with angelgroups and Inclusiv, and sponsored by Mills & Reeve, the half-day event shone a spotlight on the challenges facing Angel Groups and offered insights from leading players in the ecosystem.

In his opening remarks, UKBAA Managing Director Roderick Beer acknowledged the challenges that have faced Angel Groups and the wider early-stage investment ecosystem over the last few months. After successfully lobbying to lift the EIS sunset clause and reverse the recent changes to self-certification, Roderick acknowledged that there is a lot more work to be done and that the support of Angel Groups moving forward would be crucial.

Digital Catapult’s Chief Strategy Officer Jessica Rushworth took to the stage to welcome attendees and outline the major opportunities for innovation. She also highlighted Digital Catapult’s latest programmes. Beauhurst’s Henry Whorwood then led attendees through the contemporary landscape for Angel Groups, highlighting that deals are being done and a decent amount being invested at all stages.

The Angel Group Symposium

The day’s first panel was moderated by Dona Ardeman, Partner at Mills & Reeve, and it featured Syndicate Room CEO Graham Schwikkard, Green Angel Ventures CEO Cam Ross and SFC Capital’s Head of Investment Services Ed Prior sharing their fund formation stories. Each of the panellists shared their key learnings, outlining the challenges that come with starting a fund and getting your head around the right structure. Exploring the difference between retail investors and professional investors, the panel emphasised the importance of getting the right advice.

The second half of the day began with UKBAA Executive Chair Jenny Tooth OBE providing an update on diversity in the early-stage ecosystem. She shared the disappointing news that very little progress has been made in terms female and diverse investors receiving investment. The key to growing investment in those areas, she said, was by focusing on education to ensure that women had the tools and knowledge they need to thrive in investment. Jenny also put a spotlight on the new Invest in Women Taskforce, which aims to create a funding pot of more than £250 million for female founders. The new taskforce will be industry led, government-backed, and co-chaired by serial entrepreneur Debbie Wosskow and Barclays’ Hannah Bernard, with Small Business Minister, Kevin Hollinrake, representing the Government.

BVCA’s Head of Venture Capital Chris Elphick sat down for a fireside chat with Roderick Beer to provide an overview of the current political landscape for early-stage investing. He warned that if the current Government is replaced after the election this year, the incoming Government would enter into a difficult environment and he shared his hopes that they wouldn’t scrap everything the current Government has put in place for early-stage investment. Chris also highlighted that two thirds of investment is still in London but he said that London-based VCs aren’t averse to exploring the regions provided the pipeline of opportunities is there.

The Angel Group Symposium

The final panel of the day saw angelgroups Director Martin Avison, Angel Academe’s Special Projects & Partnerships Yee Mun Thum, Anglia Capital Group’s Investment Director & MD Hannah Smith and Veridian Ventures’ Founding Partner Dan Schonfeld, discuss Angel Group structures with Digital Catapult’s Head of Startup Investment Anthony Lyall as moderator. During the discussion the panellists opened up about their experience using deal platforms for their investors, shared details of the various revenue models they used and agreed on the difficulty of recruiting new angels to their Angel Groups.

The day came to a close with Jenny Tooth OBE taking to the stage once more to summarise the fantastic insights from the day.

We’d like to thank our partners angelgroups and Inclusiv, alongside our sponsor Mills & Reeve, for their support bringing The Angel Group Symposium to life. A special thanks also goes to Digital Catapult for generously hosting us and the attendees for the afternoon.

By UKBAA 17 Apr 2024