Regional business growth – investors called on to narrow the gap

Jenny Tooth: bringing investors and small and growing businesses together

Regional business growth investment inequality is set to worsen without significant changes and job growth, business investment and infrastructure in the regions could suffer most, according to the trade association for regional business investment – the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA), which is launching a series of investment seminars for all interested parties.

The Association cites a new independent report by the UK 2070 commission, (the independent inquiry into city and regional inequalities in the UK, chaired by Lord Kerslake)  which says the UK is one of the most regionally unbalanced countries in the industrialised world and the disparities will widen unless the government adopts a radical programme of investment.

UKBAA says a huge shift in emphasis is needed towards regional funding support to address this inequality in the next few years. One of the biggest problems it highlights is the UK’s regions is a lack of investment into small, growing, businesses. This it says, creates further gaps in terms of wage and job growth with fewer businesses able to grow and scale apace with their London counterparts.

It adds that there is currently a lack of awareness regionally in wealthy individuals as to the wide range of investment opportunities that exist locally, leading to a far lower mobilisation of capital outside of London. The keys to solving this problem it concludes will be education and bringing investors and entrepreneurs together. It will also rely on the promotion of women as both business founders and backers in a long-term fix that will require a concerted effort by the venture capital community.

To this end the UKBAA is hosting (in connection with Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government) The Connected Investing event series, to tackle this problem and discuss initiatives including the British Business Investments £100m fund and Innovate UK’s regional angel investment accelerator. These events in Bristol, Manchester, Cardiff and Newcastle go hand in hand with the regional Angel hubs set up in Leeds, Cambridge, Belfast, Manchester, Bristol and London.

The hubs are designed to encourage the coming together of angel investors and entrepreneurs seeking out opportunities for growth in local businesses.

The Newcastle event will be at The Core – 17/06/19 starting at 1pm and the Cardiff one at Celtic Manor – 26/06/19 starting at 1pm.

The events are for investors and entrepreneurs alike and up to date and registration details are here.

Jenny Tooth, chief executive officer of the UKBAA said: “Entrepreneurs across the UK need access to a connected supply of risk capital to build their innovating business from start-up to successful scale-up, yet currently the majority of the investment capital is focused on London and the South east. To address this, we all need to shift our attention to building and growing an effective investment ecosystem in the UK regions. We are organising the Connected Investing events with the support of Innovate UK in regions where we are already partnering to provide our Angel Hubs as well as in other new cities.

“Regional business have long been at a disadvantage to those operating in the capital, this announcement provides further evidence of a lack of support and understanding. Funding for SMEs in the regions has been somewhat forgotten about recently. This will subsequently impact regional SMEs more than larger businesses that can take the hit, or areas such as London or the Golden Triangle which receive the majority of domestic investment.”

Further reading: P2P property – alternative investment for returns in an uncertain market

This article first appeared on Small Business’ sister website What Investment

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