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Good time for tech start-ups say leading investors

As the call goes out to tech entrepreneurs across the UK and Europe to enter this year’s 6th Discovering Start-ups Competition (DS15), judges from the investment community are up-beat about the opportunities for new technology companies. The free-to-enter competition run by Cambridge Wireless (CW) and SETsquared Partnership, gives disruptive tech newcomers the chance to pitch their innovative ideas and business plans to an expert panel of 30 judges from the likes of Google, BT, Broadcom, IBM, Deloitte, Orange Labs, Samsung, London Business Angels and Cambridge Angels.

The positive climate for tech start-ups in the UK was given a further boost with measures announced by Chancellor George Osborne in the recent budget. While headline measures such as the reduction in corporation tax will provide some support for growing tech companies, hidden away in paragraph 1.243 was the announcement that amendments will be made to tax-advantaged venture capital schemes – Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs), Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). The changes include new qualifying criteria that limit the relief to investment in companies demonstrating that they are ‘knowledge intensive’ within 10 years of their first commercial sale and other qualifying companies within 7 years of their first commercial sale.  

“Greater support for knowledge intensive businesses means that the schemes will have an increased focus on innovative companies, which can face higher barriers to finance, while continuing to provide support for start-ups that may also struggle to access finance,” said  Peter Cowley, Entrepreneur, UK Angel Investor of the Year and member of the Cambridge Angels. 

Another welcome clarification was the removal of the requirement that 70% of SEIS money must be spent before EIS or VCT funding can be raised. “More than half of angel investments are made with the benefit of EIS relief, and without such funding from private investors – who also bring experience and contacts – many tech firms would never get past first base,” said David Gill, Managing Director of St John’s Innovations Centre in Cambridge. “A recent survey for the UK Business Angels Association noted that angels in the UK account for between £800M and £1BN of early-stage investment, making them the most important single source of early risk capital.”

“The existence of various co-investment funds such as the £100m Angel Cofund, the £25m London Co-Investment Fund and the LBA EIS Roundtable Syndicate Funds means that start-ups can now raise the larger super seed rounds of capital, from £500k – £1m, in a more efficient and effective manner than ever before,” said Alexander Sleigh, Investment Manager, London Business Angels.

The Government also announced other small measures to help starts-ups including an increase in the permanent level of the Annual Investment Allowance from £25,000 to £200,000 for all qualifying investments made on or after 1 January 2016.

The 2015 finalists of the 6th Discovering Start-ups competition run by Cambridge Wireless (CW) and SETsquared Partnership will all get the chance to present their new technologies and business plans to the panel of judges at the London offices of Deloitte, the business advisory firm, on 21 October 2015. DS15 is sponsored and hosted by Deloitte along with Google, Qualcomm Ventures and IC Resources, and supported by St John’s Innovation Centre, Tech City UK, techUK, Wayra, New Entrepreneurs Foundation, Provence Partnership, UKTI and CW Business SIG Champions.

The deadline for the entries to the 6th Discovering Start-ups Competition (DS15) is 14 September 2015. To find out more about this event and enter, please visit the DS15 website, alternatively contact Anna Nadolna at [email protected] or call +44 (0) 1223 967 101  

To strike up a conversation about DS15 @CambWireless @setsquared and feature your tech innovations, please use #DSrupt 

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