£1m financial boost for Liverpool City Region Angel Network

Steve Rotheram

A £1m funding boost for SME’s across the Liverpool City Region has been announced by Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram.

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has pledged £500,000, matched by equal funding from not-for-profit funder Merseyside Special Investment Fund (MSIF) for the LCR Angel Network in a bid to encourage small business growth and create jobs.

Up until now, the network had been funded by MSIF.

The aim is for it to contribute to the city region’s ambition to invest five per cent of its economy on Research and Development (R&D) by 2030 – nearly double the Government’s UK target – making it easier for high growth technology and research and innovation businesses to access early stage funding.

The project will ensure that more SMEs in the region can benefit from targeted investment and mentoring from private ‘angel’ investors – individuals who invest their time and expertise, as well as capital, to help young companies grow. It is intended that the network will ultimately become self-funding.

Plans to boost the network were developed in response to research carried out by MSIF into early stage funding in the region and reflect the support that businesses want to see put in place.

Steve Rotheram said: “SMEs account for 99% of the Liverpool City Region’s businesses community. Their success is vital to our region and its long term road to recovery from the damage inflicted by the pandemic.

“As we rebuild our economy, I want to make sure that we are harnessing our region’s full potential to innovate and bring greater prosperity to the 1.6 million people who call it home. The LCR Angel Network is key in helping us to achieve that ambition, helping local SMEs to access new investment and mentoring. This £1m funding injection will help even more local businesses to access new opportunities to grow and succeed.”

John O’Brien, chair of MSIF, welcomed the combined authority’s contribution, saying: “This not only allows the Angel Network to continue but will enable it to develop with dedicated resource and funding to reach more business angels and bring forward more exciting business opportunities from the region’s pool of talented entrepreneurs.”

LCR Angel Network was established in 2018 by MSIF, Brabners and Grant Thornton, to encourage investment by individuals in companies at the early stage of their lifecycle. It is currently run on a pro bono basis by MSIF and Brabners, with approximately 100 investors in the network, but operation has been hampered by a lack of dedicated resources.

The £1m funding will support the growth and development of the city region’s angel investment community, early stage funding landscape and the wider Liverpool City Region business and innovation ecosystem over a five-year period.

The network will now have dedicated resource to further develop a platform to share pre-qualified investment opportunities with investors. It will continue to organise angel pitch events and will now recruit additional angels from the city region and beyond and encourage them to work together.

The network aims to:

  • Increase the number and diversity of angels actively participating.
  • Create an approachable network that local entrepreneurs from all backgrounds can easily access.
  • Increase investment activity, competence and experience in the LCR.
  • Fully integrate the network with the wider LCR ecosystem, eg with the LCR Finance Hub’s investment readiness service.

The project will be delivered by a not-for-profit newco and wholly owned subsidiary of MSIF. Activities enabled by combined authority-funding will be guided by a project steering group which includes MSIF, LCRCA, UKBAA, local business and angel investor representation.