Smith & Williamson backs new Investment Activator Programme

Smith & Williamson is one of eight private and public organisations coming together to launch a pioneering new investment initiative for fast-growth businesses in the West of England.

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Peter Ball
Published: 27 Jan 2020 Updated: 13 Jun 2022

Smith & Williamson has been announced as one of eight private and public organisations which are coming together for the launch of a pioneering new investment initiative for fast-growth businesses in the West of England.

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The Investment Activator Programme (IAP) will begin as a two-year pilot aimed at increasing the flow of money into the region – and showcase its credentials as a start-up hub.

The programme will be delivered by TechSPARK against a background of rising investment in businesses in Bristol, Bath and the West of England.

Last year Bristol outperformed the likes of Oxford, Dublin, Zurich, Amsterdam and Brussels in this regard. However, within the UK there remains a major disparity with London, with over £6.3 billion raised in the capital this year versus £322 million locally, according to figures from the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA).

The IAP will build on some of the work done by TechSPARK and Engine Shed. It will also expand on the successful Silicon Gorge pitch competition which has worked with over 250 companies pitching for over £150 million between them, and the Quarterly Investment Briefing (QIB) events, which have brought together over 300 investors to network, share knowledge and learn about potential investment opportunities.

The IAP will deliver over 30 targeted investment events, articles and tools to support founders raising money. It will offer a relationship management programme to build connections with investors across the UK and showcase the opportunities in the West on a national stage.

The other specialist partners involved in the project are Engine Shed, Delaware, Rocketmakers, Sanderson, TLT, the University of the West of England and the West of England Combined Authority.

Peter Ball, partner and entrepreneur lead at Smith & Williamson in Bristol, says: “The Investment Activator Programme is an excellent initiative that will support high growth businesses and nurture the local funding ecosystem on which they rely.

“There is no shortage of great businesses in our region but too often they are forced to go to London for funding – Investment Activator will help to reverse this process.”

Investment activator Briony Phillips, of Bath-based Rocketmakers - a company that designs, develops and deploys technology for start-ups and innovative corporates helping them to grow into the £10 million-£100 million companies of the future – said that according to the UKBAA, the West of England has the third largest community of angel investors (early stage) in the UK, behind London and the South East.

Nonetheless, some 85 per cent of the angel investment from the region goes into the so-called “golden triangle” of London, Cambridge and Oxford.

“The likes of Graphcore and OVO Energy are Bristol-grown unicorns, and Ultrahaptics, Blu Wireless, Immersive Labs and Open Bionics are just a few examples of real power-hitters when it comes to raising investment and making their mark on the global tech scene,” said Briony Phillips.

"The Investment Activator programme will add some much-needed capacity to help solve this challenge.”

By necessity, this briefing can only provide a short overview and it is essential to seek professional advice before applying the contents of this article. This briefing does not constitute advice nor a recommendation relating to the acquisition or disposal of investments. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. Details correct at time of writing.


This article was previously published on Smith & Williamson prior to the launch of Evelyn Partners.