Invest North: Investing in northern companies

The North is a hotbed of innovation with a strong record of success.

Connecting the North’s most ambitious companies with the national and international investment network, and ensuring there is a pipeline of opportunity to deliver success in the future, is key to strengthening the economic performance.

To explore this subject further at the Invest North conference, North West editor, Shelina Begum, spoke to Louise Chapman, investment director at Praetura Ventures and Greg Holmes, impact fund investment manager at Palatine Private Equity.

Chapman said her business was established to plug a gap in funding provision for businesses looking to progress from seed stage into more developed enterprises.

“Unfortunately we’re still seeing companies which feel like they have to go to London to get funding, even though there are good opportunities in the North,” she said. “We all need to be promoting the funding opportunities which are available here.”

Holmes agreed that there are now a decent range of funding options on offer in the North, noting his own company typically invests between £5m and £30m in profitable businesses.

“We’re always looking at the competitive landscape and last time we checked there were more than 20 PE houses in Manchester, so we’re having to work hard to differentiate ourselves,” he said. “We see that as very positive.”

Chapman said Praetura Ventures normally gets about 150 to 200 companies a month approaching it for investment.

“We can’t fund them all of course, some of them might be great businesses but don’t quite fit our criteria,” she said. “We usually redirect them to other potential sources of support, such as angel funders.”

Holmes said Palatine tends to see about 250 companies a year across the North, and has recently seen significant demand from environmental consultancy firms, as people become more conscious of the need to protect the Earth.

Advising on what company owners searching for investment should do, he said: “The most important thing is to speak to different people and find the right fit for you. You need to know exactly what you’re looking for in an investor.”

Chapman also stressed it was important for company bosses to think carefully about funding, even if it appears to be a distraction from day-to-day operations.

“You need to choose the right investor for you,” she explained. “Companies should vet their funder and check whether their goals and interests are aligned.

“And you want to add more than just money. At Praetura we have a network of people who can help businesses achieve their growth plans.”