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Linked-in for angels

The first dedicated UK national angel network has been launched to help raise much-needed capital for fledgling life sciences companies. Angels for Life Sciences (A4LS), which held its inaugural meeting in London on November 6, stands out by bringing together investors with experience of the sector and generalists who usually shy away from biotech for fear of the unknown. The network is sponsored by the UK's BioIndustry Association, the international law firm Fasken Martineau, UK investment foundation Nesta, one of the UK's first business angel networks OION, and medical research foundation Wellcome Trust. Participating companies are vetted and each has to bring a cornerstone investor, who provides 10–15% of the required cash and acts as a mentor. The sponsors are funding two meetings. The first, which brought together five companies and 30 potential investors, will be followed by one in northwest England next year. Many early-stage UK life sciences firms have found it tough to raise capital, says Simon Kerry, A4LS network manager, and founder and CEO of Karus Therapeutics in Chilworth, UK. One of the difficulties is getting technical complexities across to generalist investors. Myra Waiman, CEO of Romney Consulting and one of the 30 investors in London, says: “I remember when first investing in biotech feeling utterly overwhelmed and intimidated at similar events. This had a very different, friendly feel about it, with all parties talking to each other.”

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Casassus, B. Linked-in for angels. Nat Biotechnol 30, 1155 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt1212-1155b

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