East Anglia’s angel investor fund has been given a £1m top-up to support young businesses

A venture capital fund backing some of the region’s high-growth business prospects has received a million-pound top-up to invest in more start-ups.

The funding for New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership’s angel investment programme New Anglia Capital (NAC) means that the LEP has now allocated £3m to the project.

NAC is a co-investment fund with New Anglia LEP and Anglia Capital Group (ACG), which is based at Norwich Research Park, and brings together angel investors with public money to support existing high-growth companies and provide the funding to get new products and ideas off the ground.

The fund was launched in 2014 to fill a long-standing gap in East Anglia’s venture finance market and has invested nearly £2m in 13 businesses.

Doug Field, chairman of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “New Anglia Capital is dedicated to nurturing exciting, innovative new businesses and helping them grow and achieve their potential. That’s good for high-value job creation and economic growth in Norfolk and Suffolk – but it also brings new products to market sooner, for the benefit of us all.”

Anglia Capital Group has 30 angel investors assessing opportunities in Norfolk and Suffolk, and expects to recruit a further three in each county by the end of the year.

Hannah Smith, business manager at Anglia Capital Group, said: “Start-ups and early-stage businesses are the impetus behind the UK economy, and angel investment is the largest source of early-stage capital in the UK.

“We are delighted that New Anglia LEP understands the importance of this form of finance and shares our vision to support a thriving start-up, innovation and investment ecosystem in Norfolk and Suffolk, with a clear impact on the economic health of the region.”

Some of New Anglia Capital’s investments include:

  • Newmarket-based tech company Spark EV received £50,000 as part of a seed investment round. The funding is supporting the development of Spark’s artificial intelligence-based journey prediction system for electric vehicles. The company has appointed a trade manager to support overseas sales, particularly in Scandinavia. Spark EV analyses live driver, vehicle and other data sources, such as the weather and congestion, using its advanced algorithms to increase the accuracy of journey predictions for electric vehicles. Research carried out by the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School estimates that the global market for EV prediction solutions will rise to at least £501m by 2022.
  • £28,000 in Norwich-based Artificial Intelligence entrepreneurs Rainbird, winners of the Tech Innovator award at last year’s EDP Business Awards, whose automated decision-making technology has been used in areas as diverse as fraud detection, tax advice and physiotherapy.
  • £200,000 in Ablatus Therapeutics, a spinout firm from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, to develop a new product that could improve cancer treatment for millions of patients worldwide. Tissue ablation is a surgical procedure used to destroy tissue, such as a tumour, without removing it and Ablatus’s bimodal electric tissue ablation (BETA) offers the potential to increase the size of the zone which can be treated.