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27 October, 2018 - 17:28 By Kate Sweeney

More angels must take wing to fund life science opportunities

Cambridge Angels invested well over £20 million in promising enterprises last year but the group’s chairman says he would like to see more money for life science propositions in future.

Peter Cowley, who is also president of the European Business Angel Network, adds that France is showing an increasing appetite to back startups while there is a general move across the continent to promote cross-border startup activity.

Cowley was addressing broader investment issues after Business Weekly helped promote a new venture gathering momentum – the Invested Investor – which Peter is steering with his son Alan.

The first Invested Investor book was launched by entrepreneurs, including Business Weekly CEO Tony Quested – who shared their investment war stories with a packed gathering of guests at The Bradfield Centre on Cambridge Science Park.

The Invested Investor’s mission is to generate a greater number of successful businesses, by improving the journeys of startups, through educating angels and entrepreneurs to make fewer mistakes, work better together and produce more successful exits. 

Alan Cowley said: “The Invested Investor started with podcasts and now a book. The multi-year vision is to continue to provide great content from and to investors and entrepreneurs all over the world, in audio and written form. 
“There is already pull from many countries in Europe and from Canada.  
Books 2 and 3 are already in planning and the website will provide free and potentially premium content including interactive seminars.” 

Taking time out from chairing a conference in Luxembourg as EBAN president, Peter Cowley added: “There may be a slight slow down of high quality deals in our region – although that may be a blip – but I do see more deal activity outside the so-called golden triangle. 

“Cambridge has overtaken Oxford in terms of life science opportunities but we are still suffering from a shortage of angels providing smart money in that sector.

“We are seeing some iIncreasing trends, notably machine learning and deep learning focused (commonly called AI), personalised medicine (often using data), cyber-security, Internet of Things and robotics.

“As a group, Cambridge Angels is not seeing any ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) in Cambridge, nor many in the UK. Blockchain is appearing in pitch decks, but until the monetisation and clear advantages over a high quality database become clear, then investments are rare in our region.

“Looking further afield, throughout Europe there are clear pushes and trends to cross-border investing, mainly as there are many regions where startup activity is not matched by capital availability, particularly in the CEE (Central and Eastern Europe). 

“Under Macron, France is definitely becoming more startup friendly and in general, startup activity is increasing in Europe and there is plenty of early stage capital.

“However, follow-on capital at the B and later rounds is, in my view, insufficient and the total number of very backable entrepreneurs is growing more slowly than the number of opportunities.

“The value of smart money is being recognised by an increasing number of entrepreneurs and this is where the Invested Investor project, comes in, helping entrepreneurs and angels make the right moves at the prime time.”

Alan and Peter Cowley at The Bradfield Centre in Cambridge

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