The EBAN Winter University, opportunities for business angels and start-ups
See what Microsoft’s Blaise Vignon and Brigitte Baumann, President of EBAN, had to say on the event which provided opportunities for growth and highlighted the contribution of early-stage investors to the Europe 2020 strategy.
Like us, you may have seen the recent prolific coverage in the media about the rise of ‘Super Angels’ and how venture capitalists and angels are increasingly working together. However, the fact remains that connecting angels to high potential start-ups is still a challenge.
Microsoft has been working closely with the European Trade Association for Business Angels, Seed Finds, and other Early Stage Market Players
) since 2007 to support Europe’s business angels, ensuring their members are aware of Microsoft programs that are relevant to them and their start-up companies: namely, BizSpark and EU Grants Advisor. Since the start of this partnership, around 150 companies have joined BizSpark through Business Angel group members in over 20 countries.
Improving Policy for Angels to Thrive
Working with governments to create a productive environment for both angels and start-ups is a major part of EBAN’s work, as the organization’s President Brigitte Baumann explains:
“The last economic and financial crisis has emphasized the role that business angels now play in supporting high growth early stage companies and European policy makers have come to realize the importance of supporting what is now a true asset class.”
“Our role is to articulate how this support could be provided either at pan-European level or by leveraging local efforts. Our recent White Paper
on the contribution of business angels and other early stage investors to the EU2020 Strategy summarizes the different areas where the EU could add value, for instance, through supporting the development of a stronger angel community, and through side initiatives to support the entrepreneurs when preparing to present themselves to investors.
In order to help achieve their goals EBAN held a Winter University in Sophia Antipolis – one of France’s biggest centres of innovation – with the theme “Early stage investing, an asset class. It was hosted by Sophia Business Angels, who won the EBAN 2010 “Triple Crown” Award (commemorating the business angel network of the year and early stage fund of the year).
The event brought together 150 early stage investors from over 25 countries, along with key influencers and IT entrepreneurs. As attendee Blaise Vignon, Microsoft France Emerging Business lead and BizSpark champion, said: “It was the place to be for networking with investors.”
It also provided an opportunity to present the latest research carried out by EBAN across business angel networks in Europe. Results show that while overall amounts invested and deal numbers are up, the average amount of individual deals is going down – currently to around €200,000. However, ICT is still the favourite sector of investment for angels, accounting for close to 50% of deals done – and with ICT such a major area of focus, events such as this provide scope for growth, and information and opportunities for the investors who drive it.
The event also offered essential practical workshops and training sessions for Angel investors, alongside the chance to debate topics such as “What is cloud computing and why invest in it?”
Commenting as a panel member, Blaise Vignon said:
“Cloud computing has huge potential and we need to do more to explain how it represents an investment opportunity for the angels. Start-ups who base themselves on cloud computing have some immediate advantages, such as scalability and lower up-front IT infrastructure costs. We need to help everyone– from Government to investors – to understand this.”
Some start-ups also had the chance to pitch to the gathered audience of investors - including angels, angel groups, early stage venture capitalists and top-class venture capitalist funds such as Kleiner Perkins, Iris Capital and Qualcomm Ventures.
EBAN’s next event will take place in one of Europe’s most entrepreneurial regions - CEE. On 12 to 13th May 2011, the European and international early stage investment scene will gather in Warsaw at en event hosted by Lewiatan Business Angels
, to discuss market trends and ways to support the most entrepreneurial businesses in Europe and grow them into world class companies by early stage equity investment support.
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