The angels who have ploughed £8.5m into businesses

(left to right): Steve Martin (Minerva), Andy Street, David Grindrod (University of Warwick Science Park), Jenny Tooth (UKBAA), Dean Prof. Andy Lockett (Warwick Business School), Tim Powell (Minerva).

A group of angel investors, with offices in Coventry, have ploughed over £8.5 million into new and innovative businesses – ranging from a protective headgear sportswear company through to medical device entrepreneurs.

The Minerva Business Angel Network, operated by the University of Warwick Science Park, has been helping companies access early stage funding from business angels since 1994.

This year, its annual “end of year” event at Warwick Business School was opened by the Dean Prof. Andy Lockett with guest speakers including Andy Street, the WMCA mayor candidate, and Jenny Tooth, the CEO of the UK Business Angel Association.

It was revealed that £8.5 million has been invested by the angels since 2010, when the network expanded its reach across the Midlands through establishment of small investor groups, into 56 companies. That cash has helped to lever in a further £23 million into the businesses over the course of the past seven years.

With an audience of nearly 100 present, Steve Martin, of Minerva at the University of Warwick Science Park, said: “Our end of year event is a great opportunity to reflect on not only the year gone by, but how far we’ve come as a group.

“This year we saw 113 of our network of investors inject over £1m of equity capital into businesses – most of which are in the Midlands – and we have now achieved two successful exits for our investors.

“On the day we heard from a range of our companies and, generally, the feeling is very good. Minerva has invested in some incredible businesses – some that are really pioneering cutting-edge technology.

“One of our businesses has developed and patented a way of cleaning a laparoscope during an operation – which is a game-changer for surgeons in this field – while another has created an innovative new form of protection for safety wear in sports such as cricket, American Football and motorcycling.

“They are just a flavour of the types of company we have supported and we are confident that our investors are going to see more returns in the next 12 to 36 months.”

Jenny said that business angels were a crucial source of funding for cash-hungry, innovative companies.

She said: “In my view, angel investment is the most important source of risk capital for businesses who are trying to bring an innovative product to market.

“I was delighted to be asked to speak at the Minerva event as it is doing fantastic work in investing in some ground-breaking companies.”