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ACG highlights potential for entrepreneurial investment

Hannah Smith
Anglia Capital Group

‘Join us in our support of Norfolk and Suffolk’s cutting-edge companies’ was the rallying call at a recent meeting of business leaders and private investors, hosted by one of the county’s most exciting investment groups.

The event at Centrum in the Norwich Research Park, was organised by Anglia Capital Group (ACG) to introduce potential investors to local companies that are harnessing the latest technology to create innovative products and services.

ACG is the leading Angel Investor group which specialises in providing early stage investment and support for local start up businesses, as well as those requiring finance for growth and help with expansion plans. By encouraging those with personal funds and industry expertise to support new and growing businesses, ACG hopes to boost the local economy, create jobs and make Norfolk a centre of technology.

The event was attended by individuals from across the business community who also heard from finance experts about government-sponsored schemes designed to offer tax concessions to those who support early-stage, riskier companies, particularly those which exploit novel technology and innovative developments.

“When we approached ACG we were looking for support to help us develop our disruptive new product. Not only has ACG helped with capital investment, but also members have provided invaluable advice and expertise”
Dr. David Brooks
Ablatus Therapeutics

The meeting heard from three companies, two of which are already part of ACG’s portfolio of businesses:

MSF Technologies specialises in high efficiency and performance energy generation, storage and conversion, and is a global provider of power generators, switches and stage management technologies. Based at Hethel Engineering Centre, MSF have recently signed major contracts with Textron Specialist Vehicles (Jacobsen, EZGO) and Bradshaw Electric Vehicles. Also in late 2016, MSF signed a major contract with Cambridge- based GEO (Green Energy Options) who have developed a unique power switching system incorporating MSF componentry to handle solar or wind energy and offering significant advantage over Tesla’s new ‘Power Wall’.

Also supported by ACG, Ablatus Therapeutics is the first spin-out company from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, and is developing BETA – a revolutionary ablation technology for the treatment of certain cancerous tumours. Early studies have met with considerable success, proving much more effective than conventional practices.

Tropic Biosciences, based at the John Innes Centre, is a newly formed company focussed on developing proprietary traits for tropical crops using advanced genome editing technologies. This non-GM form of crop-improvement is seen as a reponsible way of enhancing crop resistance to a variety of pathogens and pests, to be introduced into crops threatened by these problems around the world.

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Dr. David Brooks from Ablatus Therapeutics explained how angel investment from ACG is helping them develop:

“When we approached ACG we were looking for support to help us develop our disruptive new product. Not only has ACG helped with capital investment, but also members have provided invaluable advice and expertise, as well as significant contacts within the sector”.

Peter Briggs, a local entrepreneur, co-founded the organisation along with several business colleagues, and has been a member of Anglia Capital Group member, since spring 2014.

“Having established and run a number of successful businesses in Norfolk, I am keen to help other entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life. There are some very exciting and inspirational projects underway in our county with some fantastic support facilities, such as the Norwich Research Park and Hethel Engineering Centre, available to accommodate and assist them.

Many of the traditional sources of finance are often closed to new enterprises due to the risk involved in supporting early-stage companies. So at ACG we are keen to plug this gap and enable businesses to grow and thrive, and where necessary, help with mentoring or providing non-executive experience to assist them as they grow” he explained.

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"We now have one of the largest research clusters of its kind in Europe, employing over 12,000 people. NRP creates a vibrant hub of knowledge and innovation which scientists and entrepreneurs can tap into"
Dr Sally Ann Forsyth
Chief Executive Officer of Norwich Research Park

The Norwich Research Park is already home to a number of world-renowned organisations including the John Innes Centre, The Sainsbury Laboratory, the Institute of Food Research, the Earlham Institute (formerly The Genome Analysis Centre), the University of East Anglia and Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital. All contribute to creating a centre of excellence for research and development, providing facilities, support and a range of services that help support businesses to grow, particularly in the fields of agri-tech, industrial biotech, food, health and medicine, these are underpinned by genomics and bioinformatics.

Dr Sally Ann Forsyth, Chief Executive Officer of Norwich Research Park explained the NRP’s objectives and illustrated its diverse institutions and facilities. She emphasised that the NRP are keen to attract new and growing businesses to take advantage of these amazing local amenities.

“We now have one of the largest research clusters of its kind in Europe, employing over 12,000 people. This creates a vibrant hub of knowledge and innovation which scientists and entrepreneurs can tap into. Financial investment from ACG can provide the much-needed capital for these early-stage and developing companies to turn their technological advances into realistic businesses, all within the supportive environment of Norwich Research Park,” she said.

The event at Centrum also gave the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (New Anglia LEP) the opportunitiy to promote their co-investment fund with ACG. This new fund, which comes under the banner of New Anglia Capital, has the ability to match-fund investments made by ACG members. It is specifically targeted at companies the LEP believes will add value to the region in terms of new business enterprise, job creation and genuine economic growth.

Following the success of this event in Norwich, Anglia Capital Group will be holding a similar event in Suffolk in February, in partnership with Innovation Martlesham and TechEast. Again, the aim will be to promote ACG to potential investors in technology, in areas such as food, meditech, cleantech, life biosciences and digital; as well as to entrepreneurs and companies who have business plans that can considered by ACG and the LEP for funding.