Dozens of investors from around the country descended on Durham yesterday (24 May) for a sell-out event designed to introduce them to ambitious North East businesses wanting to raise cash.
More investors and lenders than ever before headed to Ramside Hall for FinanceCamp North East where more than 300 meetings were arranged for them to talk money with 90 business people from across the region. Forty funders representing millions of pounds worth of funds used the event to find bright businesses to back, including venture fund managers, angel investors, banks, social investment funders and crowdfunding platforms.
A number of investors from outside of the region attended for the first time, adding further expertise to returning and regional investors and helping to bridge the funding gap that exists between the North of England and the South, highlighted in a recent report by market intelligence company Beauhurst.
Figures in the report, entitled Funding innovation: the impact of equity and grant funding, shows the percentage of distribution of equity funding is just 3.9% in the North East, compared to 45.2% in London.
John Cordrey, Investment Manager for London-based investment fund Foresight Group, said: “It’s the first time I’ve attended the event and I’m really impressed by both the number of quality of businesses attending. I’ve met some really exciting companies. I would usually spend a week lining up as many pitches and gaining as much exposure for our fund as I’ve managed to squeeze into an afternoon.”
Estelle Blanks, Deputy Director of the Innovation SuperNetwork which organises FinanceCamp, said: “In the North East we are acutely aware of the need to improve access to finance for businesses with the talent and ambition to grow and that’s where FinanceCamp comes in.
“We make it easy for them to meet with a series of investors matched to their needs and the overwhelming response we’ve had from those registered is proof the format works for businesses and investors alike. There’s nothing quite like FinanceCamp elsewhere in the UK and we look forward to hearing the results of the introductions we made today.”
Each year FinanceCamp organises hundreds of meetings with businesses and investors, leading to countless conversations, collaborations and deals. Companies taking part complete a programme of preparations in advance of the day to maximise their chances of securing the funds they need.
Entrepreneurs, established businesses and social enterprises looking for everything from a £1,000 start-up loan to a multi-million equity funding round get a chance to pitch their ideas during a series of fast-paced meetings with investors they are matched to.
Bev Brown, Director of Leamside Equestrian, based in Houghton-le-Spring, was among the businesses looking for investment. She said: “It’s been absolutely fantastic. I attended two workshops in the lead up to today and they were so useful they actually made me rethink my entire strategy and gave me real clarity before meeting investors. I was matched to a whole series of investors who had very positive things to say about the business. I’m coming away really excited about what we’ve achieved and what will come next. I’m more determined than ever to continue on our path of innovation and growth. ”
The full-day event included pitch preparations with presentation professionals and business plan support from a range of experts, coordinated by the North East Growth Hub. Keynote speakers came from Atom and RealSafe Technologies – two regional firms that have succeeded in raising millions in investment – as well as North East Finance, Foresight Group and Beauhurst who revealed the latest in funding availability and investor trends.
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.