Innovators from the North East descended on London on Wednesday [21 February] to pitch their businesses to a roomful of heavy-weight investors.

A total of 13 entrepreneurs from the North East and Tees Valley formed part of a delegation of 30 businesspeople from across the North of England, who were selected to take part in Entrepreneurs of the North.

The event, organised by the North East Innovation SuperNetwork and supported by UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) and British Business Bank, offered ambitious Northern companies the opportunity to travel to London and meet investors who were proactively looking to expand their portfolios.

Over 80 investors attended the bespoke event at the Bank of England’s iconic London headquarters. They were impressed with the quality of businesses and the event concept, which provided the unique opportunity to learn about a diverse range of companies during quick-fire 60 second pitches before the marketplace networking opportunity – all in the space of one afternoon.

James Foster, Investment Lead at ADV, said: “We’re a patient venture investor looking for companies that are building potentially industry defining tech. At the seed stage, founders get support from angels, incubators, accelerators, their peers and the ecosystem itself. Events like this are a fantastic way of bringing those networks together to create a diverse room of entrepreneurs and investors looking to work with each other. It’s great for ADV to be part of this and hopefully we’ll build some meaningful connections.” 

The North East and Tees Valley businesses, which are based across Newcastle, Gateshead, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, County Durham and Northumberland, covered a variety of sectors and sizes. These included medical devices, renewable technologies, energy management, education consultancy and training, offshore wind technology, animal tracking, business intranet solutions, sports data analytics, sales performance software, smart materials, immersive technologies, sports technology, and performance sportswear manufacturing. 

Sukh Ryatt, Managing Director at Oak Intranet, Gateshead-based intranet specialists who are innovating the way business uses cloud technology to connect; said: “Oak Intranet has its origins as one of the largest and most respected providers of intranet solutions in the UK. Cloud technology has opened-up the way we all do business and we’re excited to enter a new chapter as we tackle the wealth of opportunity offered by the cloud. Entrepreneurs of the North is a great opportunity to present our ideas for driving forward our business to investors that are genuinely interested in seeking out the next innovative business opportunity.”  

Kevin Beales, CEO at Newcastle-based Refract, also attended. He said: “Entrepreneurs of the North was a fantastic opportunity for us to get in front of a room of angels that could be a great fit for our business, not only providing potential further investment but add value to what we offer as a business.”

Lloyd Lawson, Business Development Director at Durham-based Engenera Renewables, said: “Entrepreneurs of the North presented us with a ‘one-stop’ chance to connect with potential investors, and start conversations we hope to be able to explore in more detail to secure the funding we need to take our business to the next stage of development.”

Matt Hulbert, the co-founder of Middlesbrough-based Ojee Golf, who also pitched at the event, said: “For businesses like ours at the forefront of innovative design and problem solving, connecting with the right funding sources can be a huge task to undertake. Entrepreneurs of the North has not only given us the chance to pitch to a room of active investors looking for their next investment opportunity, but has enabled us to make connections face-to-face and start conversations that we hope will help us achieve our growth ambitions.” 

Entrepreneurs of the North offers the opportunity for growth plans to be realised by broadening access to finance to enable businesses to continue to develop within the North.

Simon Green, CEO at the Innovation SuperNetwork, said: “Businesses from across the North of England are at the forefront of a range of ground-breaking service and product innovations, and it’s important that they have access to a range of platforms which enable them to showcase their potential and secure the funding needed to grow.

“Entrepreneurs of the North gives businesses an additional opportunity to unlock investment by bringing together high-calibre, growing Northern businesses with active investors from the South. It has been a fantastic opportunity to enable those new introductions and to showcase the diverse Northern businesses that are disrupting their sectors.

“I would like to thank all of the investors and businesses who took part in this year’s Entrepreneurs of the North, as well as our partners, who all helped make the day such a success.”

Lea Paterson, the Bank of England’s Director of Independent Evaluation, who introduced the event, said: “The Bank of England has 12 regional agencies, and we regularly get out and talk to businesses on the ground to understand what’s really going on around the country. Understanding more about the barriers to growth, and about access to growth capital, is one of the areas where we are keen to learn more. Events like yesterday’s are central to supporting businesses and investors in building vital connections between one another – and ultimately helping to deliver the productivity improvements that are so critical for the UK economy. The Bank of England is really pleased to have been able to play a small role by hosting the event and wishes the businesses and investors who took part every success.”

The event is one strand of the North East Innovation SuperNetwork’s wide and varied programme which supports North East businesses to access the money they need to grow and innovate within the region. Investors will be invited to a range of events throughout the year including FinanceCamp North East, which is due to take place this summer.

Entrepreneurs of the North is part of the wider Innovation SuperNetwork programme, developed with around 50 partner organisations to support innovation in the North East. The SuperNetwork is supported by the North East LEP, Innovate UK, Engie, Northumbrian Water Group, Reece Innovation and the North East BIC, with part funding from the European Regional Development Fund.