Business angel lending ‘returns to normal’

ONE of Scotland’s newest business angel networks has completed its fourth investment in as many months as liquidity slowly begins to return to the private investment market.

Security software specialist Connect-In has won initial backing from Gabriel Investments, the Glasgow-based group formed last year to support very early-stage firms.

With support from the Strathclyde Entrepreneurial Network, Connect-In is developing a wireless security device for consumers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Gabriel typically invests £20,000 in any single funding round, triggering matching funding from the Scottish Investment Bank.

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The deal is a further bit of positive news for the angel sector, which has been locked up by a lack of buyers for promising young companies and technologies. This has forced investors into supporting fledgling firms over increasingly longer periods of time.

New figures out from Linc, the Scottish business angel trade body, reveal a mixed picture across the sector.

Linc members invested nearly £13.8 million into early-stage companies in 2012, a 13 per cent increase on the previous year. More significantly, the amount invested in new companies rose by 54 per cent, with 20 firms receiving funding for the first time.

David Grahame, executive director of Linc Scotland, said the number of new companies receiving funding had now
returned to historical norms.

Including money that others invest alongside Linc members, the total amount of cash pumped into firms last year fell by 10 per cent to £31.2m.

However, the comparisons are skewed by two large deals completed at the end of 2011, which brought in atypically high levels of venture capital funding.