Belfast Telegraph

Halo is giving its business angels more than just money

By Staff Reporter

Northern Ireland's business angels network Halo is providing the meeting place for investors and businesses to come together to find funding.

The Northern Ireland Science Park-based firm was set up in 2009 and is a joint initiative of Invest NI and Intertrade Ireland. Over those last six years investors have provided £9.2m, which has been put into 55 companies, including Taggled and Sembarc.

All firms that are based, or have a significant operation in Northern Ireland, are eligible to gain funding.

Despite being part of the crowdfunding revolution, which has changed the landscape of business investment, the firm is different to the Kickstarter style of reward-based funding. Halo is an equity-based funder, where investors, or 'angels', get shares in exchange for the money they put forward.

Alan Watts, director of Halo, said many of the firms which come to Halo for investment are looking for more than just money. "On the face of it businesses are looking for money, but in reality you get a lot more.

"What they are looking for is smart money, from angels who have worked in that particular sector. The start-ups in many cases are run by young people, so to have some grey hair on the board is a good thing."

Mr Watts stressed, despite what people may think, it is not just start-ups and tech firms that receive investment.

Traditionally in business angel networks most of the money comes from the area in which they are based. However, around 15% of Halo's investors come from outside Northern Ireland, driven mainly by London.

Mr Watts said the main reasons investors from London have looked to the province is down to good "deal flow", such as two good universities, and the science park. As well as valuations being lower, the price per share in London is driven up by competition.

Belfast Telegraph