LINC Scotland angels revive interest in growth firms
David Grahame: ‘gratifying’ to see support for new companies
An uplift in investments in the last quarter by business angel members of the LINC Scotland network indicated growing confidence in supporting the country’s new companies.
Quarter four’s investments were more than double the sum posted in the previous three months, as investors returned to the market following a slump in the early months of the lockdown.
The fall during the summer was not as steep as had been feared and the return of investors in the latter part of 2020 helped bring the total for the year to £25 million, just short of the record £26.9m in 2019.
The angel syndicates co-invest with several other types of investor, including institutional investors such as VCs and corporate venture funds, which had helped to raise investment levels in 2019.
In addition, angel syndicates were able to help many portfolio companies secure funding from Scottish Enterprise’s Early Stage Growth Challenge Fund, set up in response to the COVID pandemic and awarded as a mix of convertible loan and grant.
During 2020, the number of companies in which LINC angel syndicates invested for the first time had initially reduced while they focused on supporting portfolio companies.
This trend has now reversed. In 2019, a quarter (25%) of LINC angel syndicate deals were in new companies, taking 29% of the private sector investment.
Following the decline in investment in new companies in the middle of 2020, in the fourth quarter new companies represented 42% of all deals and 61% of all investment, bringing the totals for 2020 (21% of deals and 25% of investment) back towards previous norms.
David Grahame, director of LINC Scotland, said: “LINC member syndicates started 2020 with the impetus of record investment in the previous quarter, and this high level of activity was initially maintained.
“The coronavirus changed everything, but the syndicates were able to keep investing, supporting portfolio companies to an extent which was beyond initial fears and expectations.
“Investment in new companies suffered a little while the focus was on those needing immediate help, but it is very gratifying to see the syndicates once more engaging with and investing in new companies, and maintaining the pipeline of ventures which are essential to the future of Scotland’s economy.”