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The University of Essex is recognised as being one of the UK’s most innovative and commercially creative educational institutions. Named ‘University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards in 2018, it is designated as a University Enterprise Zone (UEZ) by the UK Government. UEZ status means the University is the focal point for supporting and nurturing new digital and creative businesses.

The challenge

The University of Essex, with support from Research England, wanted to create an equity investment platform that supports the innovative enterprises that exist and are being developed across the region. The lack of equity seed funding in Essex was recognised in previous research studies as a problem that was hampering regional economic development. As a result, the concept of a new investment platform dedicated to the region’s most innovative start-ups was proposed and received significant support from the business community.

The solution

After exploring the possibilities of developing a platform to support these objectives, the University of Essex decided to team up with Delio to create a white-labelled platform, branded as Angels@Essex. The platform was uniquely configured to the specific needs of the project, enabling both entrepreneurs and investors to be accommodated on the system. Working alongside the Delio team enabled the University to streamline the process of onboarding whilst maintaining the integrity of regulatory compliance.

The platform, which is administered by experienced University staff, allows entrepreneurs to present opportunities to sophisticated, high-net-worth and professional investors alongside restricted investors. Equity deals that arise from this platform are conducted directly between the entrepreneur and the investor(s), thus removing unnecessary costs. The platform does not charge businesses for the services it provides, which itself is an attractive benefit to smaller SMEs seeking seed investment.

The result

Within six months of the new platform launching, Angels@Essex has already brokered several significant investments. 65 investors are actively engaging with the 25 live opportunities that have been added to the platform, 250% of the team’s target for the whole year. On top of this, 64% of investment opportunities have already received pledges and a further 24% have received funding directly via the platform, totalling almost £600,000.

The Delio-powered platform has played a vital role in the overall success of Angels@Essex which has seen many successful investments raised using the support of the University of Essex team. One of the most recent and notable is Conigital Ltd, a UK based business which is digitally connecting autonomous vehicles to empower mobility for all. The company raised £1m in funding in just 24 hours after receiving support from Angels@Essex. In the first six months, the Essex team has secured 84% of its initial fundraising target for Angels@Essex.

The University’s Business Support Manager, John Stenhouse explained: “With the continued growth of early interest resulting in positive outcomes for the platform, the future looks positive for investment into innovative seed businesses that will help transform the local economy and provide sustainable business growth for the region.”


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Delio Careers

Delio staff have been very accommodating in building the platform to our requirements, demonstrating a deep understanding of the industry and our needs and continue to support us post-implementation.

John Stenhouse Business Support Manager

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