New funding boost launch for high-growth start-ups

At the launch of Capital Match are (from left) Conor Clarke (Eli Global), John Knapton (Catalyst Inc), Alan Watts (director Capital Match), Andrew Sloane (ADV) and Julia Groves (Downing LLP). Photo: Mark McCormick

A NEW service has been launched by Catalyst Inc - that's the former Science Park - to assist ambitious Northern Ireland companies with funding.

Called Capital Match, it matches high growth-potential knowledge economy companies, principally graduates from the Catalyst Inc Springboard programme with the most suitable funding sources, mostly from outside Northern Ireland.

It operates by building extensive personal relationships with multiple sources of funding - primarily venture capitalists, funds, family offices, syndicates, investor groups and selected experienced individual investors.

Alan Watts, director of the new service, said: “The difference between Capital Match and, say, an angel network is in the laser focus of the introductions.

"Instead of time being wasted in meetings where it turns out investment was never likely, relatively few meetings are set up.

"But where they are, they are with funders who will be interested in the particular company. This saves huge amounts of time for the companies and also for the funders”.

A launch event in the Waterfront Hall included a panel debate on ‘How to win Investment' with a stellar panel of major investors.

They included Andrew Sloane, investment lead at Accelerated Digital Ventures; Julia Groves, partner and head of crowdfunding at Downing LLP; Conor Clarke, investment associate at Eli Global; and Nicola McClafferty, investment director at Draper Esprit.

Conor Clarke said: “As a USA-based family office with a global focus, we are keen to invest in high quality companies from Northern Ireland. We see Capital Match as a great benefit as it will efficiently connect us with companies who exactly match what we are looking for.”

Fellow panelist Andrew Sloane added: "ADV is a venture platform, created by business builders to invest in generation-defining entrepreneurs across the UK. We're delighted to see Capital Match launch and look forward to working with them as they match Northern Irish technology companies with the right sources of capital'

The level of ambition of companies supported by Capital Match is such that they will need from £500,000 up to £2 millio of initial funding.

Alan Watts added: “We already have the relationships with funders so the really ambitious companies don't have go out to make them.”

Meanwhile 12 innovators have secured their place in the final of Invent 2017, the prestigious annual competition run by Connect at Catalyst Inc and sponsored by Bank of Ireland UK.

Getting through to October's final presents them with the opportunity to win a share of the £33,000 prize fund and a place on the NI Tech Mission to California.

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