Business angels are finding a voice amid a rise in the number of UK entrepreneurs, a small business expert has claimed.
Rory Earley, director of investment fund management at the Small Business Service - a Department of Trade and Industry body supporting the interest of small business in Government - said programmes such as Dragons' Den and the launch of Enterprise Week had encouraged more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses.
Mr Earley was speaking at the launch of the inaugural conference of the British Business Angels Association, held in Birmingham.
Mr Earley said: "Government is now trying to raise awareness of enterprise, reduce the regulatory burden on small business and provide access to funding." He also supported the role that business angels played in financing entrepreneurs.
"The majority of UK SMEs are funded by the private sector and Government, whilst providing for certain early stage businesses, does not want to crowd out private sector provision.
"The Small Business Service is keen to promote angels who can offer both time and expertise, as well as money. They also invest where venture capitalists fear to tread - and make money doing so," he said.
Mr Earley pointed to statistics that suggest that in the US, the majority of funding for small business now comes from angels, rather than venture capitalists.
He said: "It would be a powerful start if we could replicate this statistic in the UK.
"The creation of the BBAA shows that we are moving towards this."
The conference is aimed at raising awareness of the role of business angels in funding the UK's small and early stage businesses.
The two-day event involves a variety of discussions on issues surrounding small business investment. Speakers include cofounder of GP Capital, Hugh Campbell; founder of finance and venture capital firm The Summit Group, Kit Hunter Gordon and Nemone Wynn-Evans the head of Business Development UK.