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£2m+ grant fund to boost business angel investment in SETsquared businesses

£2m+ grant fund to boost business angel investment in SETsquared businesses

Kelpi, one of the beneficiaries of funding, is on a mission to replace single-use plastics (such as clingfilm) with premium performance bioplastics that harness the novel properties and environmental benefits of seaweed.

SETsquared has secured an additional £2m of funding from Innovate UK to run a second phase of the Regional Angel Investment Accelerator (RAIA) scheme. UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) will once again support the roll-out of RAIA alongside SETsquared, through a programme of investor capacity building and education.

The scheme has three defined aims. Firstly, to provide grant funding as non-diluted co-investment alongside angel-led capital. Secondly to attract new Angel investors and increase diversity in the early-stage investment community, and thirdly to encourage Angels to back disruptive technology businesses which are typically seen as riskier prospects.

The partnership initially secured £1m in 2019 as part of the Regional Angel Investment Accelerator (RAIA) pilot programme. The pilot scheme supported nine businesses across the South, South West and South Wales – SpaceForgeOkko HealthAnaphiteCeryx MedicalGoal ShaperNuNano, Kaydiar, Think Cyber and Kelpi all of which are members of SETsquared’s Scale-Up Programme – to secure £820k of Innovate UK grant funding which leveraged over £2m Angel equity investment.

Bath-based Kelpi, which is on a mission is to replace single-use plastics with compostable bioplastic made from seaweed, were awarded a grant alongside investment from Bristol Private Equity Club’s new Seed division.

Neil Morris, Chief Executive Officer, Kelpi says: “This landmark investment will enable Kelpi to advance its work as one of just a handful of companies worldwide using seaweed to create entirely new bioplastic packaging solutions. We set out to play a part in eliminating plastic pollution and enabling net zero. This funding will allow us to accelerate progress towards achieving that goal.”

Another beneficiary of the programme was SpaceForge a highly innovative Cardiff-based start-up which is developing new reusable materials in space which are not possible to create on Earth. Joshua Western, CEO & Founder, SpaceForge said: “Through RAIA we raised £100k funding from Innovate UK alongside investment from Bristol Private Equity Club and the Development Bank of Wales totalling £455k. With this investment we continued developing a product called Fielder – an innovative new method for satellite recovery. This will be a semi-autonomous device which can rendezvous with returning satellites which catches them rather than them burning up in space leaving harmful debris or ending up in the sea. We then have a method for refurbishing and reusing them – so the environmental impacts are huge.”

SpaceForge has since raised additional investment.

Bruce Colley, Access to Finance Manager, Innovate UK comments: “The RAIA scheme enables us to distribute funds directly to where they are needed within UK tech clusters whilst also generating additional private investment from Angel investment communities. The figures speak for themselves – SETsquared and UKBAA – successfully proved through the pilot that not only did they have a pipeline of highly innovative companies that benefitted from the scheme but could also attract new Angel investment communities to the opportunity of investing in early-stage, deep-tech start-ups. We were, therefore, more than happy to provide additional funding to the scheme so that further early-stage business can benefit from this transformative funding.”

The RAIA scheme has not only built investment capacity within the existing Angel networks but also brought in new Angels to invest in companies on the cutting-edge of innovation.

Rosie Bennett, Investment Manager, SETsquared says; “I’m thrilled to be able to announce that we now have 15 Angel syndicates in our RAIA consortium including investors with both a regional interest such as Bristol Private Equity Club, and QantX, sector and mission-led investors like Zero Carbon CapitalBritbots and Science Angel Syndicate, and syndicates with a specific mandate to invest in diverse founders like Cornerstone Ventures. It’s great that – as a consortium – we can continue to build on the momentum and success of this pivotal programme with further funding from Innovate UK.”

Jenny Tooth OBE, Chief Executive Officer, UKBAA says: “The RAIA scheme has enabled us to attract many new Angels into the investment community. We know that having more active female investors and those from other underrepresented groups will increase investment in a wider, more diverse range of founders. So, this is a fantastic outcome and one that will have a long-standing legacy. In this second phase of RAIA we will build on this and continue educate and inform Angels of the unique benefits of investing in in earlier stage, disruptive deep tech businesses.”

This scheme is one of three to share an additional £6m of grant funding from Innovate UK, alongside Northstar Ventures and Northern Angel Hub.

Businesses looking to raise investment should visit the RAIA webpage to find out more.

Angel investment networks interested in getting involved in the scheme should contact rosie.bennett@setsquared.co.uk

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SETsquared is a partnership between

  • University of Bath
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Surrey