Regional Investment – community building

Yesterday we hosted a Quarterly Investment Briefing event here at Engine Shed. The session was the second in a series of four for the year and focused on the broad theme of Regional Investment – both raising money in the region, and investing from the region. For the uninitiated, the Quarterly Investment Briefing is a gathering solely of investors designed to support networking, learning and sharing across the West of England (and beyond) with the ultimate goal of invigorating the investment ecosystem.

But what does the investment ecosystem look like you might ask? I’ve put together the following visual aid to help you build a picture – these are all the organisations who invest at different stages or directly facilitate investment in the West of England. There’s a far longer list of organisations located outside the region who are active locally like Accelerated Digital Ventures and Surrey 100 Club for example.

On this occasion over 60 people RSVP’d to attend and a rather more elite group arrived (don’t mention the football/sunshine) to enjoy some delicious cookies from Harts Bakery (a local treasure) and some great conversation. For those unable to join us this blog is intended to offer an insight into the level of discussion and share the resources and actions that resulted.

I arranged three lightning talks from three local investment actors:

  • Melanie Goward, Investment Director at Maven Capital who shared some insights into the way that Maven works, the investments that they’ve made locally and their aspirations for the region. She also discussed some of her own reflections on her first 12 months in the region including a call for more connections and networking in the investment and founder communities.
  • Charles Grimsdale, Eden Ventures who shared some fascinating insights into the science (or art) of making investments based on a study which is yet to be published (hence you won’t find his slides in the shared file). Charles also prompted us to think about three areas for improvement related to investment – that we should market our successes better, that we must build the community of non exec directors and that we must unite for impact – Bristol, Bath, Gloucester, Taunton – rather than competing with our neighbours.
  • Mike Jackson, Director of Scale ups at Shaw & Co. LLP who shared his journey from founder to Webstart incubator leader and on to facilitating investment at Shaw & Co. LLP. As you’ll see from his slides, Mike also put an interesting ‘Funding Readiness’ framework and straightforward outline of the funding process into the community – for sharing, using and developing together.

As this event is designed for sharing and learning, Nick Sturge then brilliantly compered a discussion session with the speakers – to allow attendees to challenge what they’d heard and to add their own perspectives. The group offered some great provocations and challenges – exploring the geographic boundaries of this work and potential for South West collaboration, how can we better market and connect the region and our fabulous companies and what can we do to prompt and support better re-investment in the ecosystem from local founders and exited entrepreneurs?

I hosted the final session – an opportunity to hear what the data specialists at Beauhurst have to say about the patterns of growth in the region. With 30 new scale-up included in their data (bringing the total to 275 for the region), and much of that growth in Beauhurst’s ‘seed’ category (which went from 109 to 128 companies), this is a useful insight into the bigger picture. We also celebrated Micrima who joined the top 10 fundraisings listed for the region thanks to their recent Q1 announcement and the 25+ companies who announced new investments in Q1 this year. Finally I chatted through the 4 companies who had prepared a one page summary of their investment proposition for the session (thought I wasn’t recommending them of course, just raising awareness).

We rounded off the event with a quick drink whilst connecting with colleagues new and old.

You will find most of the slides for the session here:

The Quarterly Investment Briefing is kindly sponsored by TLT LLP, KPMG and Smith & Williamson, our data partners are Beauhurst.

If you’d like to join us at the next event, we will be generously hosted by TLT at their Bristol HQ on Thursday 27th September from 16:00 – 18:30 and we’ll focus on the importance of people in the investment process – whether Board members, Non-exec directors, advisors, mentors or investors themselves. Please sign up for the Quarterly Investment Newsletter to find out more and RSVP: