The other week I was treated to an excellent lunch by Phil Tellwright of South West Angel and Investor Network (SWAIN) at Jamie Oliver’s new restaurant on Park St, Bristol. So what’s changing at our local Business Angel Network?
The hot news is a change of venue from the Business Park opposite the University of the West of England to SetSquared for 4 days per week. Phil explained that now South West Ventures were moving out to the Science Park (sPark) there was no longer a need to stay routed to the Business Park. A quick review of the office rental costs cemented the view that a move was needed. By working from the SetSquared offices Phil hopes that he can help their growing companies as well as find funding for other companies in the South West.
SWAIN is a publically funded “not for profit” company. To date it has been funded by the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) whose demise has been well publicised. SWAIN’s contract has a further 19 months to run which exceeds the life of SWRDA by well over a year. Phil hopes that either the contract will be honoured to its end or some money will be found from somewhere to keep SWAIN operational.
The discussion moved on to VentureFest which is being managed by Lorelei Hunt of Science City Bristol in the entrance hall of sPark in October 2011. Phil is on the Venturefest Steering Group but was unable to answer my question: “Who do you want to turn up at the event? Entrepreneurs, Companies, Investors, Advisors, Business Angels, VCs, Students, etc.”.
Phil was hoping that the out of town location will be successful but highlighted the issue of parking space – one that I had not even considered. I was reminded of the presentation I’d seen about sPark that made a major point about being green – sPark has been deliberately designed without many parking spaces (but lots of bus stops). One parking place for each 30 employees was mentioned! In the case of VentureFest, this means attendees may be expected to park their car somewhere and get a bus to the event. Hopefully this will not deter potential attendees… would you pay £5.80 to park at Bristol Parkway railway station then get on a bus? Now I think about it, there’s a more basic question: Why not use the UWE Conference Centre? It has ample space, people know where it is, it is easy to get to and has lots of parking.
As always more questions than answers but thanks for a great lunch Phil!