The Prime Minster celebrates Angel Investing at No 10

13 February 2012

Angel investment was recognised by the Prime Minister as the most important source of capital for start-up and early stage businesses at a major event held at No 10 Downing St, last Friday, 10th February. The event which was hosted by David Cameron and Lord Young,  the  Enterprise Tsar,  was attended by over 100 representatives of the angel community around the UK, and notably from the British Business Angels Association, together with other main players in the SME finance market place.

“I don’t want to sound like Lord Kitchener, but your country needs you, really needs you”, said the Prime Minister, who emphasised the vital role that angels are playing in supporting enterprise growth in response to the current economic challenges. The Prime Minister also spoke about the measures that the Government was taking to support the angel community and drew attention to  the new Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme providing an even greater incentive to existing and new investors to put up to £100k of their investment into start-up businesses in return for a £50% tax break. He also emphasised the Government’s major “Olympic year offer” to wipe out the Capital Gains Tax bill for 2012-13 for anyone who puts that gain into a start-up business. “It’s a huge sort of one-off offer to make this the year of entrepreneurialism and enterprise and Business Angels” said Cameron. He also recognised the important role that Angels play inbringing vital business experience and mentoring skills. “But it really means something because it means you are sitting on the shoulders and standing behind the people that you’re helping...they will need the mentoring, they will need the Angel part as much as the money part.  So, please do all you can to do even more of what you’re doing”. Finally, the PM emphasised that they were keen to hear the ideas from the angel community on what more could be done to support their role in the UK and that there was still time to influence the forthcoming budget.

Anthony Clarke, Chair of BBAA following on from David Cameron’s speech said: “UK Angel investing is estimated by BBAA to be £800m per annum which is approximately twice the sum invested annually by seed start up and early stage venture capital funds in the UK with approximately 15,000 angel investors operating in the current UK market.  We are delighted that the Government is supporting the further growth and expansion of angel investing in the UK through thenew Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) which, some may argue, is a bold move by Treasury, to reverse the shortage of supply of seed investment in the UK and will undoubtedly attract essential new Angel money into the seed stage. The new £50m Angel Co Fund will also act as an important new incentive to leverage significant new capital from angel syndicates”.

“The challenge remains on how we can double or even treble the numbers of UK angel investors and to increase the awareness of individuals to become angel investors to invest in innovative high growth potential entrepreneurs. There is also a need to ensure that entrepreneurs have much better understanding of how to access angel investment and how to make the most of all of the sources of finance available to them to meet their needs.  Notably, I am pleased to confirm that BBAA has recently concluded a new strategic partnership with the British Bankers’ Association and also the Business Growth Fund.  We will also be working more closely with our ongoing sponsors, Lloyds Banking Group and NESTA and building on our existing links with BVCA. These new strengthened alliances will allow BBAA to grow its role and services as a trade body in line with the expanding and developing UK angel market”.

Further speakers at the Angel the event included Dale Murray, BBAA’s Angel of the Year, who told her story from being a successful mobile and telecomms entrepreneur turned angel investor and the importance of bringing both sector skills and finance to grow young businesses. Giles Palmer, CEO and founder of Brandwatch, spoke about the early challenges he experienced in setting up and developing his business and of the value brought by angel investing to the successful growth of his realtime social media monitoring platform, now turning over £6m annually and set for explosive international expansion in 2012.

David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science, spoke about the important opportunity offered to bring angel money to support the successful commercialisation of exciting new technologies and developments resulting from the Government’s innovation support programmes.

A panel session chaired by Lord Young offered opportunities to put questions from the assembled angel community to a line of key financial players, including Angela Knight of the British Banker Association; Stephen Welton, from the £2.5bn Business Growth Fund; Ken Cooper, from the new £50m Angel Co- Fund; David Gauke MP Exchequer Secretary for Treasury and Peter Jones, ex Dragon’s den and serial entrepreneur and investor.

Lord Young closed the proceedings by emphasising that, as the Government’s key adviser on entrepreneurship, he would remain very supportive of angel investing and would like to hear of any measures that he could take to the Prime Minister to reinforce their role.