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19 September, 2022 - 21:05 By Tony Quested

Pam Garside named first woman chair of Cambridge Angels

Healthcare specialist Pam Garside has been named as the first woman chair of Cambridge Angels. From October 1 she succeeds Simon Thorpe whose three-year tenure ends. He will remain on the Angels’ board.

The influential investment group invested in 48 deals in 2021, including 16 new portfolio companies, and is one of the region’s most ardent supporters of entrepreneurs.

Pam Garside is only the group’s sixth chair, following Thorpe, Peter Cowley, John Yeomans and co-founders Robert Sansom and David Cleevely.

Starting life in 2001, Cambridge Angels is a group of 60 high net worth investors with proven track records as entrepreneurs. Its members have identified and supported a large number of the Cambridge Cluster’s most innovative businesses and in its 21st year has certainly held the key to a great many doors.

Pam Garside is a management consultant working in healthcare systems and digital health in the UK and internationally and an angel investor in early-stage HealthTech companies. 

She is a Fellow of the Judge Business School of the University of Cambridge and a member of the Investment Committee of Cambridge Enterprise, the technology transfer company of the University. 

Garside founded and co-chairs The Cambridge Health Network, a membership group of senior players in UK health, both private and public sector. She is a board member of Crown Place VCT, several startups and Whizz-Kidz and Punchdrunk charities. She advises a number of health technology accelerators in the UK and Europe.

She began her professional life in management in the NHS and subsequently spent many years studying and working internationally based in the US. 

Simon Thorpe welcomed her appointment, saying: “Most of my time as chair has been through the unanticipated challenges of a pandemic which has brought about interesting and, in some cases, enduring changes to our model. It has been a great honour to chair Cambridge Angels and I have thoroughly enjoyed doing so. 

“Pam has been a member of Cambridge Angels since 2017 and has been on the board since October 2018. She is a very active contributor to our group and to the board and is an active angel investor.”

Thorpe is proud that the group continues to provide smart capital to exciting innovators – “from entrepreneurs to entrepreneurs.” He says the group adapted through the pandemic by assessing potential deals via technology such as Zoom – ensuring the steady flow of opportunities was not interrupted.

He added: “Our focus is on DeepTech and HealthTech and the future is very much IP and data rich; in turn, these strengths represent the future hope for the UK economy.”

Thorpe says the expertise Cambridge Angels entrepreneurs are able to pass on to teams that it backs is as significant as the capital injected. Part of the vision has always been to add value to enterprises who are successful in raising Angels’ capital.

He adds that the group is not purely Cambridge-centric. “While the majority of businesses we support will be based in the Cluster we also push wider, into London and Manchester among other UK locations for example; also, we have members in California although we don’t ordinarily invest there.”

Like many other prominent entrepreneurs Thorpe would – in an ideal world – like to see more Cambridge area entrepreneurs take their companies further under their own steam rather than selling too early.

But he swiftly adds that this Cluster is better placed to deliver success than most across the UK. And he believes that the breadth and quality of Cambridge IP and innovation is actually increasing.

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