A delegation of regional entrepreneurs has descended on London to pitch to a roomful of heavyweight investors and help close the funding gap in the North. 

Eleven businesses from across the North East took part in the Entrepreneurs of the North event – a once-in-a career opportunity to meet a panel of 75 London-based investors who were actively seeking new companies in which to invest. The investors ranged from angel investors interested in early stage ideas through to very large international funds. There was also representation from Asian and US-based funds. 

The event was organised by Innovation SuperNetwork North East England as part of FinanceCamp, its programme dedicated to helping businesses get hold of the money they need to grow. It was supported by UK Business Angels Association and the Knowledge Transfer Network.  

Simon Green, Executive Director at Innovation SuperNetwork, said: “We work every day with exciting North East businesses, from tech start-ups to established manufacturers, who have enormous ambition and potential but struggle to raise the funding they need.  

“While there is access to a range of funding at early stages there is a lack of options for that crucial next stage. This event was all about broadening the options available to high-potential entrepreneurs to allow them to effectively grow and scale their businesses by accessing the critical mass of investment that is accumulated in the capital 

“We’re really looking forward to hearing about successful deals in the coming months and hope we’ve succeeded in convincing investors its worth their while continuing a relationship with us so we can introduce them to more exciting businesses at FinanceCamp and VentureFest. 

The North East businesses taking part in the event were identified through VentureFest North East and FinanceCampTheir businesses cover a wide range of sectors including life sciences, education, digital, healthcare and human resources. 

All entrepreneurs were given the opportunity to develop their business propositions and polish their pitches with presentation expert Dan Bond in advance of meeting the investors to increase their chances of securing funding. On the day the companies were given a chance to showcase their ideas during an exhibition, before presenting their propositions in a 60 second pitch and finally meeting interested investors face to face. 

Will Dracup, CEO of Biosignatures in Newcastle attended the event with the aim of securing £2million to complete the development and commercialisation of the company’s first product, a blood test for prostate cancer. 

He said: “This funding is absolutely essential to us. The company needs funding to complete product development and get to market. Clinicians want these tests and adequate funding will deliver them faster. 

“This event was very important to us because there is less and less investor presence in the North, particularly large venture capital and private equity funders. The pre-event support we were given meant we felt confident and well prepared and we got a lot of interest from the audience. It was a great experience and we will be following up the promising connections we made.”

Feedback from the London investors was excellent, with potential deals identified for most of the North East companies. Rich McNally, Chief Research and Investment Officer at City of London-based Niche Investsaid: “We identified a couple of really interesting companies through the event that we wouldn’t otherwise have met. It’s a great format to see lots of Northern businesses in one afternoon and we would be keen to be involved in future events of this type.” 

FinanceCamp 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 Innovate UK, the North East LEP, Northumbrian Water Group and the North East BIC, with part funding from the European Regional Development Fund. 

  • FinanceCamp today opened registrations for its 2017 event, which will be held on Wednesday 24 May. Visit financecamp.co.uk to book a place to meet with lenders who want to lend and investors who want to invest.