Backing for Cornwall Angel Network

British Business Bank chair Stephen Welton (centre) visiting Falmouth University with (from left) Meg Salt (The FSE Group); Masayuki Kishi (Amutri); Professor Emma Hunt (Falmouth University); Michael Calver (Amutri)

Cornwall is set to develop its own angel investment network to foster the growth of local businesses as part of a joint initiative from Cornwall Chamber of Commerce and the British Business Bank, the UK’s economic development bank.

The Bank launched the £200 million South West Investment Fund in July last year following the success of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund.

An angel investor is someone who invests their own money in a small business in exchange for a minority stake, or equity, in that business, as popularised on the BBC television series Dragons’ Den. As well as investment, angels can also bring a wealth of experience, expertise and contacts, helping to drive the business forward.

This week British Business Bank chair Stephen Welton CBE hosted an event in Newquay organised by Cornwall Chamber of Commerce to bring together a range of existing and would-be angels to discuss the creation of a new Cornwall Angel Network.

The event was part of a three-day visit to Cornwall by Welton where he met with local businesses, organisations, investors, and Cornwall Council to discuss economic growth and business access to finance.

The aim of the Cornwall Angel Network is to help establish a more diverse investment community to support the growth of Cornish businesses, and to stimulate and support higher levels of equity investment.

The network would complement other angel networks like Tech South West’s Angel Investor Programme, and funding streams like the British Business Bank’s South West Investment Fund. The network would also build on the success of the Bank’s Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund, which funded businesses over the last five years and helped attract more than £100 million of private investment into local companies.

Welton said: “Business angels are an important part of the finance chain for small businesses, and we know from our investment fund experience that there is an appetite for more angel investment in Cornwall.

“We want to work with the Chamber of Commerce and other partners to help forge a strong community of business angels and potential angels in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. This will improve the important role early-stage equity plays in bringing investment, skills and experience to Cornish businesses to help them grow, innovate and create jobs.”

Welton said Cornwall had seen a significant uptick in equity investment activity in the last five years, with an average of 14 deals per year with a total investment value of £188 million. This compares to six deals a year on average in the five years before that, with a combined investment value of £45 million over the period. This outpaces the growth rate experienced by the wider south west over the last decade.

As a result, Cornwall’s share of deals in the south west increased from 7% in 2014-18 to 12% in the last five years, and Cornwall’s deal volume now exceeds the south west average when measured against the concentration of high growth businesses in the region.