Northern angel network set to expand after £10m commitment

David Smith and Keith Benson, co-founders of DSW Angels
David Smith and Keith Benson, co-founders of DSW Angels
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An angel network which invests in early stage technology firms in the North has received a £10m boost to expand into other regions.

British Business Investments, a commercial subsidiary of the British Business Bank, has committed £10m to Dow Schofield Watts (DSW) Angels as the first partner in its £100m Regional Angels Programme.

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

The DSW Angels network, which has an office in Leeds, 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 manages investments on behalf of 90 investors, based primarily in Yorkshire, the North West 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, chief executive 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.”

Jenny Tooth OBE, chief executive 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."

She added: "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, it forms part of the Government’s response to the Patient Capital Review.

The programme was originally announced as part of the government’s Industrial Strategy in November 2017.