Investment Activator

Since Engine Shed opened we have had a focus on the investment agenda – particularly access to investment for growing businesses. Most recently we launched the Quarterly Investment Briefing series to bring investors together to network, share and learn. These events have been running for 6 quarters and now see c. 50 people gather at each event. The Quarterly Investment in Brief newsletter is now circulated to 300 investors who are interested to learn about the investment opportunities and activities in the region. We have also partnered with TechSPARK over the last 4 years to support Silicon Gorge – the number one pitch competition in Bristol and Bath.

But there’s a lot more still to do. And so we’re working with TechSPARK to add some more capacity, and capability to help solve this challenge. Together, we have designed a 2-year pilot (Jan 2020 – Dec 2021) which will see one person recruited to work as the Investment Activator for the region. This person will become the go-to lead for those seeking investment and those looking to make investments – they will run the Quarterly Investment Briefing events/newsletters and also the Silicon Gorge pitch events.

To make this happen, we’re are seeking c. £130k to cover the costs associated with this role – everything from event sponsorship to salary. We hope to secure half this amount from an institutional investor and will then work with private sector companies to find the remaining funding. For more on what this role will cover, check out the deliverables below.

It doesn’t stop there, in other regions in the UK, public funding and private sector support often combine to run much bigger operations – so if you would like to have a part in this work, or would like to fund something bigger – to make a Greater Bristol and Bath, get in touch with Briony ( or Ashley (

The problem we hope to solve

With companies receiving 6x more investment in London and it apparently taking 3x longer to achieve funding in the West of England, there is more work to do to reduce the barriers to growth in the region. The South West has the third biggest community of angel investors (after London and the South East)  yet 68% of the total UK angel investment goes into the golden triangle of Cambridge, Oxford and London. Only 14% of scaleup companies access equity investment – and whilst equity isn’t the answer for everyone, we believe that building the equity ecosystem will benefit the scaleup community more widely.

The Investment Activator role

  1. Silicon Gorge pitching event twice per year: Silicon Gorge has existed since 2014. It provides a focal point to draw out investment opportunities and investors, to improve the investment readiness of those companies not currently supported by an incubator and to connect those companies with the support ecosystem
  2. Quarterly Investment Briefing events and newsletter: Founded in 2018 by Engine Shed, the QIB is funded by KPMG, Smith and Williamson and TLT, and resourced by Engine Shed, until end 2019. The QIB services a community of 270+ investors and helps them to be better informed, to network, share and learn. The quarterly events include lightning presentations from up to 3 speakers, presentation of investment data from Beauhurst and sharing details of those companies currently raising investment in the region. The newsletter which is circulated the following day includes a round up of the event and details of forthcoming investment-related events from across the region.
  3. Pitch me events: A regular, informal pitch night event to offer an opportunity for companies to practice their quick pitch, investors and regional supporters to provide lightning pitches and the community to network and share their experiences.
  4. Data/CRM management: Who’s who of investors and active development of a community of connected angel investors and funds. Gate-keeper for this data (all funders of the role will need to be committed to the effective and fair use of this data). Active management of GDPR compliant database of funders (including VCs).
  5. Digital Pitch platform: Maintain the TechSPARK pitch-deck page for investors to include the latest pitch decks from local business leaders or one-page summaries of investment opportunities.
  6. Bimonthly blog posts: The IA would post two blogs per month focused on:
    1. Who has raised in the last month, what’s the cumulative total
    2. What events and opportunities to watch out for (for the startup and scaleup communities)
  7. Storytelling: The IA would spend time profiling ‘investment heroes’ to raise awareness of specific stories of investment. This storytelling, which is advocated for by entrepreneurial ecosystem researchers and Scaleup Institute will help raise aspirations and ensure we learn from success and failure.
  8. Help startups and scaleups to understand the investment landscape: Signpost events and training, bespoke conversations 1:1 with founders and business leaders seeking investment.


CURRENT STATUS (Nov’19): TechSpark will be taking the Investment Activator project forward from 1/1/20, with Engine Shed as a contributing partner. TechSpark and The University of Bristol are in disucssion about the ongoing ownership and implementation of the Quarterly Investment Briefings, and it is expected by all parties that the QIBs will be run by the Investment Activator going forward.