Angel network to expand into Midlands following £10m investment

Pictured: David Smith and Keith Benson
Dow Schofield

British Business Investments commits £10m to Dow Schofield Watts Angels as first partner in Regional Angels Programme

British Business Investments, a commercial subsidiary of the British Business Bank, has announced a new commitment to Dow Schofield Watts Angels (DSW Angels) as the first partner in its £100m Regional Angels Programme.

The £10m commitment will be invested alongside the DSW Angels network into early stage businesses. This is expected to deliver almost £30m of new funding for scale-up businesses in the regions.

The DSW Angels network invests in early-stage regional tech businesses and brings together founders with experienced entrepreneurs who can provide support and mentoring. The network was set up two years ago by David Smith and Keith Benson with the support of the Dow Schofield Watts group.

It is one of the largest business angel networks in the North, managing investments on behalf of 90 investors, based primarily in the North West, Yorkshire and the North East. As a result of British Business Investments’ commitment, DSW Angels intends to expand its investment activities into the Midlands and the South West.

Catherine Lewis La Torre, CEO of British Business Investments, said: “Our Regional Angels Programme is designed to address regional imbalances in the availability of angel finance, and to increase the amount of capital available to smaller businesses with high growth potential through angel networks. With this £10m commitment from British Business Investments, DSW Angels will be able to increase their support for such businesses in the North, where they currently operate, and to expand into new regions.”

Keith Benson, co-founder of DSW Angels, said: “The North and other regions have a growing tech community but have previously lacked the type of strong angel networks that exist in London. With DSW Angels, we set out to fill the gap. We are very proud to be selected as British Business Investments first partner in this programme, which will supercharge our investments and significantly boost the development of entrepreneurial talent outside of London.”

The Regional Angels Programme helps reduce regional imbalances in access to early stage equity finance for smaller businesses across the UK, because it plays an important role in funding businesses with growth ambitions. The programme aims to address this issue by increasing the availability, supply and awareness of angel and other early-stage equity investments across the country, particularly in areas where this type of finance is less readily available.

Jenny Tooth OBE, CEO of the UK Business Angels Association, said: “With angel investment still very focused on London and the Golden Triangle, the British Business Investments Regional Angels Programme offers the important opportunity to boost business angel capacity in underserved regions across the UK. We are delighted that DSW Angels is the first partner to be announced, as it one of our active UKBAA members operating in the North. This will bring significant new leverage to attract more individuals to bring investment and experience to support entrepreneurial growth in the regions. We are looking forward to working with DSW Angels and hearing about further funds being committed under this programme in the coming months to help turbocharge angel investment across the regions”.

The Regional Angels Programme works by committing funds for investment alongside business angels and other early stage equity investors, acting as a catalyst to bring longer-term capital to smaller businesses with growth ambitions. Launched in 2018, the Regional Angels Programme forms part of the Government’s response to the Patient Capital Review.

Like all British Business Investments programmes, the new programme expects to generate a market rate of return on its investments and will be investing on a commercial basis.

The Regional Angels Programme was originally announced as part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy in November 2017.