Independent advisory business Dow Schofield Watts has launched a new technology team which aims to boost the growth of the North’s tech sector by helping businesses bridge the funding gap with the South.
The team will be led by David Smith, a veteran tech investor and adviser who formerly managed the North West Fund for Digital & Creative. The line-up also includes Keith Benson, a former technology developer; Dave Graham who has a background in the mobile industry as well as leading the firm’s engagement with Sci-tech for the last 4 years; and Roger Esler who has advised technology companies at different stages of development in the Yorkshire & North East market and heads up the office in that region.
While the team will offer technology companies a full range of advice on how to grow and exit their business, access to finance will be the key focus – and in particular how to tap into the rich seam of venture capital in the London market.
Venture capital investment has long been concentrated in the capital. According to figures from CB Insights, UK tech firms secured a record £2.46bn in venture capital in 2015, although 63% went to companies in London.
David Smith believes lack of access to finance is holding back the development of the North’s tech scene. “The North has strong talent offering high-quality investment opportunities. Start-ups are becoming more sophisticated and professional each year. We also have several vibrant, research orientated universities in the region. However, with a few notable exceptions, venture capital remains focused on London and investors rarely venture into the regions – even though strong competition for investments in London is pushing up prices.
“A key part of our role will be to help bridge the gap by introducing Northern technology companies to sources of investment in the capital. We will also provide a conduit to enable London-based venture capitalists to access opportunities in the North, where they are likely to get far more for their money.”