More than £4m has been injected into eight innovative Northern businesses thanks to the collaborative efforts of three Angel networks to bring investors and opportunities together.
With deals spanning a large area of the Northern Powerhouse; Newcastle Angel Hub, NorthInvest and the Women Angels of the North Syndicate have worked with some of the brightest Northern businesses and entrepreneurs to secure equity investment for growth, via a series of joint pitch events. Many of the deals have also leveraged further investment via Innovate UK programmes, including the Regional Angel Investment Accelerator, which is managed across the North by Innovation SuperNetwork via the Newcastle Angel Hub and NorthInvest.
Surgery Hero, a Leeds based business has created a digital clinic that helps people prepare for and recover from surgery at home. Founded in May 2020, Surgery Hero has seen a spike in demand for its services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 1 in 8 people in England now on surgery waiting lists. They are currently commissioned by multiple Integrated Care Systems in the UK and committed to provide over 8,000 programmes for people currently awaiting surgery. The £2 million of seed funding will be used to scale their solution to be able to support more people undergoing surgery, as they begin their expansion to the US where roughly 50 million major surgeries are performed each year.
Warrington based firm, Agile Life Sciences technology, tracks menopause by detecting changes to the bacteria in the vaginal microbiome from a simple non-invasive urine sample. Menopause affects 51% of the population and in the UK alone 13 million women are impacted. Following a successful pitch at a joint pitch event hosted by all three networks, the company secured £200k in angel investment, which was subsequently match funded in the form of grant funding by Innovate UK as part of RAIA programme to bring a total of £400k.
Dr Jan Rogers, Joint CEO & co-founder of Agile Life Sciences (ALS) said “The investment and grant funding has been transformational for ALS allowing us to invest in critical capital equipment, take on additional experienced laboratory and sales & marketing staff and also commence a pilot study of 1,000 women. We feel so thankful to the angel networks that have helped us to secure this money. To have the backing and support of the Women Angels of the North Syndicate has been great as a female founded business.”
Rapid Fluidics, a Newcastle based Microfluidics business offering design consultancy and rapid prototyping for complex geometry fluidic cards was founded in 2020. The business initially secured investment following ‘The Big Pitch’ at VentureFest NorthEast in March 2022. This was quickly followed by further investment after pitching at a joint Newcastle Angel Hub & NorthInvest pitch event in May. In total, Rapid Fluidics secured £340,000 in private investment and match-funding with an Innovate UK Smart Grant.
With this joint investment, Rapid Fluidics are improving productivity through refined materials, production automation and additional operational support. Paul Marshall, CEO of Rapid Fluidics, said “The support we have received from the Northern angel networks has been incredible and we feel very lucky to have been able to gain investment to grow our business and move forward with our plans. I’m now raising another round to allow us to scale-up to support an expanding customer base and prepare for increasing manufacturing requirements and because of the networks and contacts I have made as a result of the pitching events these organisations deliver, I feel confident we will achieve our target!”
NorthInvest and the Newcastle Angel Hub bring investors together and connect them with businesses at all stages of growth seeking investment through regular pitch events throughout the year. Championing diversity and inclusion the three work together to support innovative businesses across the North from all backgrounds and are determined to drive growth and economic prosperity to our regions.
Jordan Dargue, board director at North Invest and Women Angels of the North Syndicate Founder, said: “These recent deals are a perfect example of how angel networks can collaborate to help Northern entrepreneurs access investment. As a result of the RAIA Programme, these hubs have non-dilutive grant funding available to them which can be leveraged alongside angel investment and effectively supercharge investment rounds. This synergy between the angel hubs and Innovate UK puts the North on the map for national and global companies, as well as investors, to set up operations here.”
Estelle Blanks, CEO of Innovation SuperNetwork, said: “The partnership between NorthInvest, Newcastle Angel Hub and The Women Angels of the North syndicate is centered on our collective passion to help businesses across the North gain investment to ultimately grow, thrive and stimulate our regional economies. I’m so pleased for the eight businesses across the North that have gained investment and look forward to seeing what these businesses do next.”
Together, the Angel networks have closed out deals for five other Northern businesses; Chu Lo drinks, Holly Health, NatterHub, Audemic and Veo.
The Newcastle Angel Hub is delivered by Innovation SuperNetwork as part of the Catalysing Innovation in North East Clusters Projects 2021-2023, and is part-funded by ERDF.
The Regional Angel Investor Accelerator programme, funded by Innovate UK, provides matched grant funding for businesses, which de-risks investment for angel investors. This is led by the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) and delivered by the Innovation SuperNetwork and North Invest in partnership with the UK Business Angels Association.
The Women Angels of the North syndicate is the only women-only angel syndicate in the North of England, founded in July 2021, offering support to female investors and encouraging investment in female founders.