A decade of connecting

NABU. Chief Executive of Connect Yorkshire Nick Butler. 110817AR3pic1.
NABU. Chief Executive of Connect Yorkshire Nick Butler. 110817AR3pic1.

Connect Yorkshire, the not-for-profit organisation that works with fast growing small to medium size businesses to help them obtain investment, is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

It has already helped companies win more than £45million of investment and will be looking to increase that as part of their Investment Forum, which takes place in Sheffield on September 28.

Chief executive Nick Butler said: “We have worked with many Sheffield organisations over the last 10 years and have seen numerous highly successful and innovative companies prosper.”

Connect Yorkshire has seen considerable successes over the decade, having exceeded its targets by 150%.

Mr Butler added: “We fashioned the operation on a model in San Diego that had an excellent track record and which in turn has proved very successful here.

“We feel more than ever companies – which may have superb ideas but can lack the necessary commercial knowledge or specialist expertise needed to grow their businesses – need help in the key areas of commerce such as drawing up business plans, being coached for presenting to investors or legal advice.“

Previously funded by contributions from the private sector and from Yorkshire Forward, the organisation is now focused towards commercial partners and has significant plans to move forward in its next phase of development.

Mr Butler said: “We have superb working relationships and key contacts with many of the UK’s main blue chip organisations across the professional services sector; we will be looking increasingly to develop these relationships as we continue to grow and expand our services.”

Connect Yorkshire offers companies access to a network of more than 45 private sector sponsors, including venture capitalists, professional service providers and well-established companies.

Companies that have received help include Liquid Accounts which won over £1million of equity investment, entrepreneur Peter Hopton, founder of Very PC in Sheffield who has built up companies turning over £2million, and Seren Photonics Limited, the Sheffield University spin out firm, which presented at the Investment Forum in Sheffield in 2009 and has raised £650K.

Mr Butler believes this is an increasingly positive time for the region with many pioneering fledging companies and equally a great deal of investment to be had. Hessaid: “There are many promising businesses across Yorkshire – many of whom have exceptional products and services with the true potential to become market leaders – for whom we can add value and help them achieve their goals providing a bridge to venture capitalists. We are particularly indebted to the many blue chip firms and leading entrepreneurs from the region who give their time and expertise gratis to help these up and coming companies.”

South Yorkshire-based R3 is another example of a quality management team with a good business idea – volume manufacturers of products for the civil engineer and construction markets from mixed waste plastic - that obtained funding with support from Connect Yorkshire. From a start up situation, R3 expects to turn over £3million and employ 20 people once production starts later this year.

Connect Yorkshire’s chairman, leading businessman and entrepreneur Richard Doyle, said: “Our success has proved that there is a much needed role to span the private and public sector and provide high growth companies with unbiased advice and access to specialist expertise and investors. The SME is the lifeblood of the economy and it is a very important role – and a privilege - to be able to help them prosper and grow.”

The Investment Forum will take place on Wednesday September 28 at DLA Piper, 1 St Paul’s Place, Sheffield, from 9am–2pm. High growth companies interested in presenting can register their interest by contacting Danielle.ward@connectyorkshire.org or visiting www.connectyorkshire.org