COLLABORATION

Nexus-NorthInvest tie-up to supercharge startup funding in UK’s Leeds

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Ask any entrepreneur or small business owner – finding access to funding is often what keeps them up most nights.

Those who know their available options would grapple with other issues from understanding what works best to other complex decisions such as the tradeoff between near and longer-term costs and paybacks, ownership and control.

In Leeds, the UK’s second largest financial center outside of London and home to an exploding startup scene, a new partnership hopes to simplify the process.

Nexus, the University of Leeds’ new innovation hub, is joining forces with NorthInvest to help start-ups and SMEs within the community secure investment advice and funding support.

The collaboration will help bridge the gap between these early-stage start-ups and angel networks and funds.

According to the announcement, the partnership includes access to the university’s academic and research expertise, its facilities as well as commercial business advice from professional services partner KPMG and funding support from NorthInvest’s mentors and investors.

“Nexus is committed to accelerating business growth for start-ups and SMEs in the North,” said Nexus Director Dr Martin Stow in commenting on the partnership.

“Ahead of our opening this Spring we have built up an expert team, and developed numerous strategic commercial partnerships, to ensure that we can connect our members to the most appropriate expertise and support.

“We have a real synergy with NorthInvest, sharing a key objective of supporting the growth of businesses in the Leeds City Region and helping new ventures to thrive.”

Due to open this May, Nexus is an innovation hub based in a new £40m state-of-the-art building on the university campus. Functioning as an enabler and facilitator, the hub will feature office and lab spaces, collaboration areas, event and meeting spaces, as well as a dedicated team responsible for forging and maintaining productive partnerships between university and business.

Nexus enterprise manager Lizzie McCloy who will manage the relationship with NorthInvest said the collaboration will give members access to mentors who can guide them through the funding process and connect them to real funding opportunities.

“Navigating the funding maze can be daunting for a new business and sourcing funding is often one of the major concerns for start-ups.

“Many entrepreneurs have brilliant, viable business plans, but when it comes to funding, they’re either not aware of the options available to them, or find the process intimidating and stressful,” she noted.

NorthInvest founder Professor Adam Beaumont said: “I’ve been passionate about increasing the availability of funding for innovative start-up businesses in the North for the last two decades, and this partnership is another excellent example of how we can continue to support up and coming pioneers through connections to angel investors, mentoring and funds.”

Since inception in 2015, the Northern Powerhouse-backed not-for-profit has raised over a million pounds for Northern-based startups. Its network reportedly saw 450 percent growth last year and currently has 90 investors as part of its community.