Sussex Innovation

On the morning of Thursday November 30th, Sussex Innovation hosted the first in an ongoing series of pitch events, part of a new investment programme delivered in partnership with the University of Sussex


A group of 30 investors watched presentations from the first five businesses to participate in the University of Sussex Business Angels programme, which includes founders from among the University’s staff, students and alumni, as well as members of the Sussex Innovation community. The pitches included several businesses focused on social impact innovations, and emerging technologies spun out from academic research.

When I became CEO of Sussex Innovation four years ago, one of the first things that I did was to canvass our membership community and find out more about what they needed, and how we could support them. We do a great job helping SMEs and start-ups be more sustainable and impactful, but I was quickly made aware of the many companies in our ecosystem who are seeking investment for the next stage of their growth.

Of course, many of our members have been able to successfully raise the finance to grow in the past. In many cases, we have helped to point the right investor towards the right opportunity. However, it has always been more of an informal process.
I’ve been eager for us to find an approach that works and that can help us to match more opportunities with the local investment community.

‘Local’ is the key word here. People with a connection to Sussex are overwhelmingly keen to invest in their region, and support the great ideas that are being developed here. That’s why we approached the University with a plan for an angel investor club built around our world-class academics and vast alumni network.

This focus on our academic and alumni community will help to make the University of Sussex Business Angels (USBA) unique. Every founder that pitches to investors will have a connection to Sussex, either as students, staff or alumni of the University, or as members of the Sussex Innovation community. It’s the whole reason that Sussex Innovation was first established back in 1996 – to grow the regional knowledge economy, creating skilled jobs in the area, and keeping the money and the talent here.

We want to see more future success stories in the vein of Enterprise Therapeutics (a biotech spinout that had its portfolio of cystic fibrosis therapies acquired by the multinational Roche) or Iris Connect (an edtech company founded by a Sussex
alumnus that now reaches over 50 countries around the world from its headquarters in Brighton).

Sussex has established Centres of Excellence for cutting-edge tech-nology like AI and quantum physics, life sciences including genetics and neuroscience, and research into healthcare, education and sustainability that could have global impact. It’s our job to help work like this to thrive. At every pitch day, we’ll hand pick a few of the most exciting businesses to present their

Simon Chuter Head of Investment Services

I’m delighted to return to the Sussex Innovation team to head up the USBA programme, and this first pitch event has been a great showcase for the range of exciting businesses that we can introduce to local investors. There were some promising conversations happening during the networking portion of the morning, and I look forward to seeing some of those relationships develop further in the coming weeks and months.

I’m enjoying meeting all the other passionate people who want to join us on this journey. One of our aspirations for this venture was to demystify angel investment, attract first-time investors and diversify from the traditional stereotype of a seasoned investor.

For that reason, we don’t invest on anyone’s behalf – any investments that you choose to make will be entirely up to you. We’re also particularly interested in hearing from women and underrepresented groups. So long as you’re “investment curious”, can afford to invest a minimum of £5,000, and care about supporting the best and brightest growing businesses
close to home, get in touch.

Find out more about University of Sussex Business Angels at


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