Aston University and University of Birmingham Enterprise have teamed up with Minerva, one of the UK’s largest traditional angel investor networks, to expand the funding opportunities available to start-up businesses in the West Midlands by launching a network of ‘business angels with insight’ for Birmingham.
Minerva Business Angels is part of the University of Warwick Science Park. The new Minerva Birmingham network will meet regularly at Aston University to provide access to investment for innovative businesses in the region looking to grow. University of Birmingham Enterprise will provide pitch training and mentoring for those local businesses seeking investment from the network, while Minerva will contribute its tried-and-tested angel investment model.
While a total of £1.8bn was invested in 2017 in the UK through the Enterprise Investment Scheme, just 2.6% of this sum was invested in the West Midlands. With this new initiative, Minerva, Aston University, and University of Birmingham Enterprise aim to redress the balance by increasing investment in regional innovation.
Andy Street, the Mayor of West Midlands Combined Authority, commented in support of the Minerva Birmingham initiative: “Entrepreneurial activity has got to be key to our future growth and success, and that’s why I am a keen supporter of Minerva because of its importance for the region.”
Paula Whitehouse, Aston Business School’s Associate Dean for Enterprise and Director of the Centre for Growth, has welcomed this as another vitally important part of Aston’s ongoing commitment to support not only those businesses involved in its leading growth programmes and spin-out initiatives but across the region as a whole.
She said: “This natural partnership with the Minerva network will offer our regional community of innovative entrepreneurs another much-needed route to funding and the support they need to thrive”.
David Coleman, Head of Enterprise Acceleration at University of Birmingham Enterprise, has also welcomed the collaboration, adding: “There are some fantastic investment opportunities in Birmingham, as we have seen through our existing partnership work on Pitchfest West Midlands, which has helped 170 companies in the region looking for investment.
However, we also each recognise that within our region companies frequently lack the confidence to seek the finance to grow or those that do are lost to other regions in search of capital. Much more needs to be done to attract and connect angel investors to Birmingham based companies, retain our best entrepreneurial talent and this new network will be an important enabler for this.”
Welcoming the launch of Minerva Birmingham, Alex Toft, Head of Minerva, said: “Angel investment is a way for successful and experienced business people to give something back by supporting up-and-coming companies. Minerva Angels don’t only bring financial backing; they bring a wealth of experience and the ability to open doors and make connections.
“Working together, Minerva, Aston University, and University of Birmingham Enterprise will promote the opportunities available for investors, especially those willing to get involved with like-minded people, and seek to expand the funding opportunities available to start-up businesses in the West Midlands.”
The official launch of Minerva Birmingham will be held at Aston University on 9th April, with a number of investors and innovative companies from the region in attendance.