EU|BIC WestBIC has successfully set up three international syndicates in Singapore, London and New York. Nonetheless, there is still a lot of work to be done, to strengthen early stage investment in Europe. WestBIC is therefore also the #ESILangel National Leader for Ireland and a contractor for the Irish Halo Business Angel Network HBAN.
WestBIC is the official EU Business & Innovation Centre operating in the Border, Midland & Western Region of Ireland. It also manages HBAN activities (Halo Business Angels Network, an all-island initiative) in that part of the country. Established in 1997, WestBIC has taken on the role of #ESILangel Local Leader for the ESIL capacity-building programme in Ireland, where the investment ecosystem is currently 'strong, but we’ve definitely got a way to go,' according to Ultan Faherty, Area Manager with WestBIC in the North-West region.
By joining the ESIL programme, WestBIC is 'looking to profile our companies to international investors, give them the chance to get involved in the work we are doing and also share experiences,' according to Ultan. In fact, internationalisation is key for syndicate investment and that’s why HBAN has already set up three international syndicates in Singapore, London and New York. 'It would be great to do it closer to home in Europe as well,' he said.
At the ESIL Local Leaders Summit on 5-6 November in Brussels, Ultan gave some insights into the early-stage investment landscape in Ireland. 'We’ve got 600 live investors in HBAN, which is not bad, but it's still a small proportion of the overall angel investment community in Ireland, but it is developing all the time and improving,' he said. 'Last year we supported 45 projects and we have invested approximately 12 million euros by private investors, and that leveraged approximately another 18-19 million from other sources as well, so it's quite strong and it's growing.'
The key challenge for the Irish local leaders over the next five years is to increase the pool of investors.
How do they plan to do that? In Ultan Faherty's opinion, people need to 'understand the benefits of syndicate investment', something that may not be clear to everyone, especially when starting out. 'For some people it's an easy sell, for people who get involved and who dip their toe in the water, generally we retain those people and keep them on board. The challenge is to grow that pool of people.' Intermediaries such as accountants, solicitors and advisors for example, can help access potential investors, and Ultan says that support like this needs to be better communicated. 'We need to get the message across that there are great opportunities there if (people) have a look at private investment.'
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