UMIC, the facilities management and business support service provider for the University of Manchester, in partnership with pro•manchester successfully hosted an Investment for Entrepreneurs Workshop at the Core Technology Facility, on Tuesday 21 September.
The event was a part of several workshops being organised by pro•manchester to inform the Commission of the New Economy Manchester and soon-to-be formed LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) specifically in relation to funding gaps and other challenges facing the entrepreneur and start-up sectors .
The importance of attracting new entrepreneurs to the city region was identified as a key issue. The invited group of 50 delegates, comprised a selection of investors, bankers, suppliers and senior management from the SME community, based around the UMIC BioIncubator.
In what was billed as a ‘PowerPoint-free’ meeting, the group was introduced to the University of Manchester’s UMIP Premier Fund, by Mark Rahn of mti partners, with follow-up discussion and commentary from John Leach of Winning Pitch and Conor Mulrooney from Phagenesis. Conor explained the issues and challenges facing start-ups when trying to attract investment and provided a case study of how his business succeeded in attracting £2m investment from business angels in a challenging economic climate.
The discussions highlighted the importance of being around ‘people who knew people’, networking and developing beneficial business relationships. Stephen Franklin , CEO of Evgen, stressed the importance of tenacity when searching for investment. There was a general view that a different funding model for drug discovery was required, as the current model was ‘broken’ and did not fulfil the needs of the companies operating in this area.
There then followed some interesting round-table discussion around several key issues, ranging from the nature of the deal-flow in Manchester, to how to specifically fund drug discovery activity and how to attract more business angel investment. There was consensus that as a network we do not require significant public funding and that there was commitment to ‘do this ourselves’ within the audience. However, getting the banks to support small businesses was an absolute requirement moving forwards. Likewise, there is continued demand for business angel activity in this sector, with the proposal for a Manchester-centric angel network gaining support among the group. The potential clearly exists for a ‘Manchester Connects’ along the lines of that in existence and thriving elsewhere.
Martino Picardo, Managing Director of UMIC Ltd, commented
“It was an excellent interactive day and we were privileged to have such distinguished guests in the audience. The conclusions were not dramatic but did confirm what the key issues are moving forwards for technology sector based start-ups when attracting investment. The importance of networking and the absolute requirement for good people to be associated with business plans was gratifying to hear. I am sure that we have informed the debate and hope that we will be well represented in the final report being prepared by pro•manchester. As a key player in Manchester’s entrepreneurial network UMIC is keen to schedule more of these types of meetings and we can only hope that the new LEP and New Economy Manchester will take note of the key requirements for the growth of this sector, moving forwards. Technology will be a key sector for the future economic development of Manchester and the city Region”