New ownership and board directors for Glasgow business angel syndicate

Glasgow-based business angel syndicate Gabriel Investments is on the lookout for more investors after making the switch from university ownership to being led and owned by its members.

Set up in 2012, the syndicate has been supported by the University of Strathclyde via its dedicated start-up incubator. Gabriel specialises in funding very early stage, high risk business ventures with promising commercial potential.

Last year, six deals, ranging in size from £50,000 to £200,000, were completed compared to the usual average of four deals per year.

Since the syndicate’s creation, about 60 per cent of the businesses in which its angels have invested have a link to the university. Entrepreneurs and investors have often been drawn from the institution’s network.

Gabriel Investments director Gill MacAulay and chairman Lynne Ross. Picture: Martin Shields

While Gabriel will continue to have a strong relationship with the University of Strathclyde, the change of ownership is set to open up more investment opportunities across further organisations in Scotland.

The syndicate is also bringing a range of investors on board with Shancastle Investments, a private family investment firm, being the first institutional member to sign up. Its chairman, Guy Stenhouse, has joined the syndicate’s board along with three other new directors, entrepreneurs Nick Kuenssberg, Richard Cooper and Les Gaw.

Stenhouse said: “Shancastle provides Scottish growth companies with equity funding. Gabriel has established a leading position in providing capital at the vital first stage of an entrepreneur’s journey in building a company and we are pleased to support this next phase of Gabriel’s development.”

Gabriel’s financial support to fledgling companies is often matched by funding from Scottish Enterprise (SE) through the agency’s Scottish Co-Investment Fund.

After consultation with Gabriel, the economic development agency recently agreed to the syndicate’s request to more than double SE’s previous level of available matched funding for co-investments, giving further support to very early stage businesses.

Jan Robertson, interim director of growth investments at SE said: “Scottish Enterprise is delighted to support Gabriel through increased co-investment recognising Gabriel’s recent investment activity and also our continued commitment to supporting early stage Scottish companies.

“In working with Gabriel over a number of years we have been able to help support young innovative companies at the start of their fundraising journeys and beyond.”

To date, Gabriel has invested more than £1 million and leveraged a further £20m from other funders. This investment has been into 23 companies doing innovative work in a range of areas including 3D cancer modelling and counter-drone technology. Many of the companies have expanded globally.

Gabriel director Gill MacAulay said: “Early stage ventures are the highest risk for investors but our track record shows that we have the expertise and experience to assist companies in this area.

“We aim to be the foremost early stage investment syndicate in Scotland and we’re unusual in that our whole group invests at the first round. We’re always on the lookout for new angels and we offer various levels of investment options.”

Poonam Malik, head of investments at the University of Strathclyde, added: “We have worked closely with Gabriel Investments since its inception, and we are delighted to be continuing this relationship into their next chapter.”

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