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Investor heaven - Halo recruits 100 'angels', seeks hundred more


John Phelan

John Phelan

John Phelan

THE State-supported body for promoting so-called 'angel' investment says it recruited more than 100 new investors last year and is seeking another hundred this year with the potential to invest €20m locally.

The Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN) since 2007 has been building regional syndicates of investors interested in gaining stakes in startups and early-stage firms.

The all-Ireland initiative - backed by development agencies on both sides of the Border - has spurred more than €100m in investment to firms across the island, with half of that investment coming since 2015.

The group has said its 2019 recruitment of investors - dubbed angels because they typically give cash-starved startups with bright ideas the chance to grow - exceeded 100 for the first time in a single year.

This took the total number of active investors on HBAN's books above 700, including syndicates in the US, the UK and Singapore.

"The success of last year shows that interest in angel investment is accelerating at a terrific rate," said John Phelan, the all-island director of HBAN, pictured.

"One of the drivers behind this is that we are seeing a lot of younger people who are coming up through the ranks of the larger tech companies, and who want to invest in startups themselves," he said.

While newly recruited investors typically take six months to a year to start investing under the HBAN umbrella, the group said 24 within the 2019 class had already made investments exceeding €2m in 11 companies, including into medtech startup CroíValve.

That bioengineering spinout from Trinity College Dublin is pioneering minimally invasive treatments for life-threatening heart ailments.

CroíValve in March completed a €3.2m funding round involving a record number of 48 angels led by HBAN.

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HBAN said its recruitment of 2020 angels - starting with an all-Ireland conference next month in Wicklow - would seek a similar profile of investor: someone with typically around €200,000 to invest in one or more Irish startups or early-stage firms.

HBAN is funded by Enterprise Ireland, Invest Northern Ireland and cross-Border body InterTradeIreland.

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