Investment and growth: finding your route to success

Posted on: 06/11/2016

Finding investment and growth opportunities through Digital Refer

Digital Refer can help you find the right funding and support for entrepreneurs seeking startup or R&D funding in the UK.

Last year was a record for equity investment in the UK’s high-growth companies, with £4.9 Billion invested in startups and scale-ups in 2015. The European Digital City Index ranks London the best city in Europe for supporting start-ups and Mayor Sadiq Khan announced at the DebateTech earlier this year that he wants “to make London number one for digital… and over take New York and Silicon Valley”.

And yet, despite this, being an entrepreneur looking for R&D support and funding in the UK can still be challenging – especially in the digital, creative and design sectors. There are plenty of organisations that provide support and investment but you still need to find those that best meet your specific needs.

To help you identify the right opportunities and to put to good use our network and expertise, we have developed Digital Refer – an online directory of more than 230 organisations that provide private investment and support to the digital, design and creative business community. These range from accelerator programmes, business incubators and start-up studios to angel investors networks, venture capital funds and corporate venture capital firms. Our research is being used to enrich the OpenAxel platform, a project funded by the EU and supported by Wayra.

A Google spreadsheet has been designed to ensure that the directory can be easily accessed and downloaded to create personalised lists. Businesses can filter organisations in a number of different ways including location and the nature of support provided. In order to give some context and provide further guidance, we have also put together a report based on a series of interviews conducted with both investors and startups that have secured funding.

Digital, design and creative businesses are by nature cross-sector with applications transferable from a specific market to another. Choosing the right market and identifying its size is hence the first task of any new venture. Keeping track of developments and trends is also essential to secure support and investment.

Companies of different stages will go after different levels of support and investment while support organisations will often publish their preferred sub-sector or technology to attract the right businesses. However, like any other type of matchmaking, it is recommended to conduct detailed research beyond general description to really understand the likelihood of a good match.

Whilst most organisations listed are based in London, the chances of securing investment are not necessarily less for those based in the rest of the UK. By tapping into the right angel networks, businesses can form partnerships with mentors who prefer to work with entrepreneurs physically closed to them.

Special thanks go to Ajay Kathrani from Jack Consulting Ltd and Nigel Banister from Science Developments Ltd for producing Digital Refer and the report.

Digital Refer by the Knowledge Transfer Network


Astrid Ayel – Knowledge Transfer Manager, Digital Economy


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