An extra £1m is being injected into the LCR Angel Network to support start-up or early-stage small businesses across Liverpool city region. Tony McDonough reports
A new cash injection will see £1m invested into the LCR Angel Network which invests in start-up or early-stage small businesses with high-growth potential.
The LCR Angel Network was co-founded by Mark Rathbone, a partner at Liverpool law firm Brabners, Grant Thornton and Liverpool-based business loan and equity provider MSIF. It was set up in 2018 to support early stage high growth businesses.
Now MSIF is to pump an extra £500,000 into the angel investing pot, a sum that is being matched by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, adding up to a total of £1m. The aim is to support SME growth and create new jobs across Liverpool city region.
Angel investors are typically wealthy individuals who provide capital for a early stage businesses or start-ups, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity. This method has been popularised by the BBC reality show Dragons’ Den.
It is hoped the LCR Angel Network will contribute to the city region’s ambition to invest 5% of its economy on research and development (R&D) by 2030 – nearly double the Government’s UK target – making it easier for high-growth technology and research and innovation businesses to access early stage funding.
It will ensure that more SMEs in the region can benefit from targeted investment and mentoring from private “angel” investors – individuals who invest their time and expertise (as well as capital) to help young companies grow. It is intended that the network will ultimately become self-funding.
John O’Brien, chair of MSIF, said: “This not only allows the Angel Network to continue but will enable it to develop with dedicated resources and funding to reach more Business Angels and bring forward more exciting business opportunities from the region’s pool of talented entrepreneurs.”
Over the past year the LCR Angel Network’s investments include a Liverpool business that has created a digital mental health platform for workplaces and a new more “ethical” gaming platform that secured a six-figure deal.
It is currently run on a pro bono basis by MSIF and Brabners, with approximately 100 investors in the network. However, its operations have been hampered by a lack of dedicated resources.
Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram added: “SMEs account for 99% of the Liverpool city region’s businesses community. Their success is vital to our region and its long-term road to recovery from the damage inflicted by the pandemic.
“As we rebuild our economy, I want to make sure that we are harnessing our region’s full potential to innovate and bring greater prosperity to the 1.6m people who call it home. The LCR Angel Network is key in helping us to achieve that ambition.”