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Bristol and Bath 'one of best places to invest in start-up companies'

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Written by: Gavin Thompson | Posted 10 November 2015 14:36

Bristol and Bath 'one of best places to invest in start-up companies'
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Bristol and Bath is now one of the most attractive places for investment in start-up companies, according to one venture capital firm.

In recent years it has been said that Bristol’s burgeoning tech firm has it all, except the money.

But that is starting to change. London-based venture capital firm Downing has invested almost a third of its portfolio in startups based in the area since it launched a year ago.

It has put money into a range of businesses including Duel, a competitive photo sharing social network, Zenstores, which provides order management software for small ecommerce businesses, Habu, a room-booking and resource management platform, Nursery Book, an integrated app for managing children’s nursery administration and reporting, and Natter, a new social network based on the principle of three word status updates.

Matt Pennywell

Head of Downing Ventures Matt Penneycard, above, said: “London attracts the majority of the UK’s venture investment, with far fewer private investors looking outside the capital to find exciting opportunities.

“However, we believe that there are significant growth opportunities in the South West. Fantastic talent, quality office space and great facilities that are more affordable, means that investment capital stretches significantly further.”

The high numbers of quality start-ups and growing digital and technology companies is part of the reason the Bristol Post has launched the Edge Awards, celebrating Excellence in Design, Gadgetry and Entrepreneurialism.

The awards, in association with the University of the West of England, are now open for entries with catorgies including App of the Year, Emerging Technology and Creative Agency. See the full list of categories here.

Matt said the new awards would only help promote those companies.

“We have long recognised the wealth of talent, creativity and entrepreneurialism in Bristol and Bath and are delighted that the launch of the Edge Awards will highlight this,” he said.

Downing has formed a close partnership with Webstart Bristol, an early stage tech incubator for web and app startups which is recognised as being one of the best in the UK.

Participants receive expert advice on marketing, finance and product development from some of Bristol’s top business people. They are then coached on the best way to pitch ideas to potential investors.

Mike Jackson, Founder of Webstart Bristol, said: "I've been delighted by the interest shown by Downing Ventures in the local startup community, with three Webstart companies receiving both investment and ongoing business and marketing support.”

The positive sentiment is echoed by Nick Sturge, Director of the Bristol SETsquared Centre.

“The tech and digital cluster in and around Bristol & Bath is thriving – not only is there a really creative streak in the region, it’s also highly entrepreneurial," he said. "If you add the long and distinguished record in technological innovation you have a perfect storm for building a generation of growth businesses supported by investment partners such as Downing.”

Jak Ollet, one of the founders of Habu, a recent addition to the Downing portfolio, added: "We are delighted to have received investment from Downing. Their investment will help us to take the business to the next level. This is an incredibly exciting time to be part of the largest digital cluster outside of London2 and Downing’s funding means we will achieve our objectives of developing the product and rolling it out to customers both in the UK and overseas.”

Matt concluded: “Tech giants such as HP, Toshiba, IBM, Sony, Amazon and JustEat, to name a few, have a presence in the South West. There are fast-growing and prospering digital agency, gaming and animation clusters here, and it also has the highest number of new business startups in the UK after London.

"In conjunction with our partners in Bristol and Bath we are working hard to identify, inspire and support the next generation of tech entrepreneurs.”

Enter the Edge Awards here.

Edge Awards sponsors 2016

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