Minerva Business Angels drive forward the Green Economy - EU|BIC University of Warwick Science Park
Driving the green economy with Minerva Business Angels
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The third EU|BIC Specific Mission Commitment is the access to finance!
EU|BICs raised in total over € 1 billion of funding for their client companies in 2021. The majority of capital is sourced via private investors (69%).
The Minerva Business Angels, powered by the University of Warwick Science Park, were recently named the 2nd most active investment group for green projects in the UK. Since 2010, Minerva has invested in more than £20million in over 100 companies, which has, in turn, helped those companies leverage more than £60million.Alexis Toft
Head of Minerva Business Angels & Investor
The group has over 150 members from around the UK and overseas, a corporate membership scheme including Venture Capitalists seeking support from the Minerva angel network, and a network of universities including Birmingham, Aston, Loughborough, Nottingham, Nottingham Trent, and WBS-London – who support and facilitate face-to-face events at their locations.
Minerva Business Angels members are generally experienced individuals who have successful careers, businesses, or recently exited a business. Typically, they are keen to “give back”, be that with financial support or experience. A financial return on their investments is welcome, but they all understand the risk and high failure rate in investing in these early businesses. Angels usually come with a book of connections and sector experience in the companies they invest in.
The Minerva network focuses on the screening of companies and investors to try and maximise the ability of companies to raise with Minerva and in line with investor interest. “We see around 450 applications per year from companies with about 70 pitches, of which typically 40-50% receive some support.”
Those successful at the first stage undergo a personal interview to further assess their suitability for the network and seek to identify areas of strength and concern. Selected companies then register to the angel platform, giving them access to membership. They pitch either at a face-to-face event or via a webinar.
Minerva also runs a programme of educational webinars used to raise awareness and recruit new investors, and is also a key partner of Midlands ICURe, helping to deliver investment and investors/mentors to their spinouts.
As the principal angel network in the Midlands, Minerva plays an important regional role too, working closely with the British Business Bank to raise awareness on investment and other local initiatives they run. Minerva is a member of the Midlands Space and Health clusters and support the work of the West Midlands Combined Authority and various initiatives for the Mayor.
Minerva also delivers Minerva Birmingham PitchUp together with Aston and Birmingham, a regional competition to find the best pitch. Applicants pitch to a series of experienced investors and enter a final, which is run together with Venturefest.
Minerva’s position as 2nd most active investor on a deal basis in the green scaleup economy is driven by the general interest in innovative new technology that answers a problem. Although describing themselves as tech agnostics, the Midlands’ traditional manufacturing heritage leads a sector of the membership to favour innovative products, despite Minerva’s delivery mechanism and investor network coming from all over the country. That enthusiasm can be infectious and has been the driver of many of Minerva’s green economy investments.
The criteria for investment is generally an enthusiastic team with vision and an idea which has proven evidence of need, supported by a strong intellectual property position where possible.
Innovative early start-ups/spinouts are the vanguard of the development of new technology. They are nimble, creative and frequently the feeder to larger concerns that eventually swallow them up for that technology.
As the pressure increases for a carbon-free economy, this group will also potentially be the new Unicorns, for example, the UK will need 6 Giga factories. Minerva is already aware of the pressure on rare earth supplies for battery supplies, leading to novel startups to address this problem.
The two most notable recent investments have been Ecomar, which delivers a midsize electric boat and hydrogen hybrid engines, e.g. wind turbine support vessels. The technical challenges to using batteries in seawater can’t be underestimated.