By Claire West
Innovative British companies, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists were today brought together with the elite of US venture fund managers and investors at a major conference in London to promote investment in Britain’s rapidly growing high-tech sectors.
The US / UK Financing Innovation Conference aims to highlight the quality of British companies, the UK research base and encourage venture capitalists to get behind the emerging breed of innovative, high-growth firms. It will also bring investors together so that UK fund managers can build links with their US counterparts.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), Silicon Valley Bank and ARM Holdings have collaborated to bring together the US and the UK in this way.
The two day conference will see those attending travelling to Cambridge where they will visit the Cambridge Cluster, which for 50 years has been creating and developing world beating high technology companies such as ARM and Autonomy through work with the University of Cambridge. The trip coincides with Sherry Coutu, a leading angel investor, launching the Cambridge Cluster Map, which will provide users from around the world with information about the innovative firms within the cluster so they can research and transact with the businesses much more easily than before.
Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:
“The UK has a world-wide reputation for innovation, invention, research and development. It’s one of our biggest strengths and one of the biggest drivers of growth.
“But our companies need finance from the best international investors if they are to develop into truly global businesses. By encouraging closer links between US and UK venture capital sectors, and showing the potential that exists in innovative British companies, we can turn UK high-growth and innovative SMEs into world-leading businesses.”
US Small Business Administrator Karen G. Mills said:
In the United States, entrepreneurship has been one of our core assets and one of America’s defining features. This conference reflects the ongoing collaboration between our two countries, and our common goals of driving innovation and supporting entrepreneurship.
“By working together and building stronger ties between the US and UK investment communities, we can unleash innovation in untapped corridors and create the foundation for a global economy that’s built on the ingenuity of our countries’ high growth businesses and the imagination of our entrepreneurs.”
Phil Cox, Head of EMEA and India and President of UK Branch for Silicon Valley Bank, said:
“We are delighted to be supporting the conference and helping to promote the UK as a key player in the global innovation technology scene. It’s essential that investors, entrepreneurs and businesses are brought together at events like this to develop and build the industry ecosystem.
“At Silicon Valley Bank, we are proud to be able to offer our network of US investors access to innovative British businesses such as these. Both the conference and the Cambridge Cluster Map are great opportunities for these key players to build relationships and match up innovative UK businesses with essential funding.”
The conference will also be an opportunity for discussions to take place between the US and the EU’s biggest capital markets on the future of venture capital and how to deliver good returns for investors and support high growth businesses during challenging economic times.
Speakers taking part in the event include Danny Truell of the Wellcome Trust and Hermann Hauser from Amadeus Capital Partners, as well as three UK Government Ministers and the head of the US Small Business Administration, Karen G. Mills. The delegates will also have the opportunity to visit two of the UK’s top performing innovation clusters, Cambridge and Tech City in East London, and visit an exhibition of a dozen innovative SMEs from across the UK throughout the conference at the Royal Society.
Closer links between UK and US venture capital communities were discussed by President Obama and the Prime Minister during the President’s state visit to the UK in May 2011, and the conference is the first sign of this closer collaboration.
The UK / US Financing Innovation conference is led by BIS and UKTI with sponsorship from ARM Holdings and the Silicon Valley Bank, and the close involvement of other key organisations: The British Venture Capital Association and the US National Venture Capital Association, NESTA, Technology Strategy Board, Capital for Enterprise, University of Cambridge, the Tech City Investment Organisation and the Royal Society.