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Business & Economy

Summit planned to drive equity investment for regional innovation

The Innovation SuperNetwork has launched a new summit to draw attention to the £1.6 billion funding gap in innovation, which it says is holding back North East SMEs.

The Accelerating Investment and Innovation Summit will bring national policy makers together with regional businesses, investors, fund manager and corporates.

It will also give selected innovative SMEs the chance to pitch to regional and national investors through the Newcastle Angel Hub.

Estelle Blanks, executive director at the Innovation SuperNetwork, said: “The pandemic has had an untold and ongoing impact on global economies, and at the same time UK industry is preparing to leave the EU.

“The pipeline of innovative businesses in the North East is stronger than ever, and the volume of innovation taking place has only increased as companies pivot in response to Coronavirus.

“Whilst this is good news, the funding landscape against which businesses in the North East are supported to innovate is substantially underfunded.”

The online conference follows the publication of The Future of Growth Capital report (published August 5, 2020), which called for urgent action to close the UK’s growth capital gap now though to be £15 billion, according to Innovate Finance, the ScaleUp Institute and Deloitte who have released the findings.

The 2017 Beauhurst Funding Innovation report also highlighted the regional imbalances that exist in the UK with regards to innovation finance.

It suggested that the North East receives less than 4 per cent of the total innovation grant and equity funding available in the UK.

A recent Nesta report titled ‘The Missing £4 billion’ (May 2020) suggested an investment of £1.6 billion is needed in the North to rebalance national spend on R&D.

The online summit will take place on Tuesday September 29.

Confirmed speakers include, Dr. Henry Kippin, director of economic growth at the North of Tyne Combined Authority; director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Henri Murison; seasoned angel investor, Meganne Houghton-Berry; and Henry Whorwood, head of research and consultancy at investment insight and analytics firm Beauhurst.

Estelle added: “Our programme of work was launched in 2016 with a clear aim of building a diverse investor community in the North East and connecting innovative businesses with the equity investment and grant or loan funding they need to grow.

“While there is substantial opportunity for, and appetite from, equity investors to work with regional start-ups and growing innovative businesses, the innovation funding gap remains a huge issue for regional economies.

“The Accelerating Investment and Innovation Summit is designed to raise a voice about these challenges and opportunities.”