The business angel community has toasted a new arrival to the West Midlands' enterprise scene with the inaugural networking event of private investment firm Beer & Partners.
Around 60 investors, professional advisors and entrepreneurs attended the meeting, dedicated to 'Developing Private Investment in the West Midlands', at Faraday Wharf, in Holt Street, Birmingham.
Of the 1,300 private individuals and corporates currently registered with Beer & Partners nationwide, 56 per cent have expressed an interest in West Midlands-based companies.
Nick Paul, chairman of Advantage West Midlands, gave a keynote address.
"The return of the private sector, in the form of Beer & Partners, to the vitally important business angel sector in the West Midlands demonstrates a growing recognition of the entrepreneurial activity underway here, an activity which this agency wants to nurture and encourage," he said.
"We recognise SMEs are vital to growth and prosperity in our region but, at present, we only have a middle-of-the-road performance in terms of new company formation compared to the English regions, fifth out of nine.
"Advantage West Midlands wants to see more companies start up, establish themselves and grow to become the mainstay of our economy.
"We look forward now to working with Beer & Partners, other private sector networks and Advantage Business Angels, building on the progress of the last four years and enabling good quality businesses to secure angel finance and business angels to have access to good quality investment opportunities."
Richard Jephcott, a technology entrepreneur and chairman of the Advisory Board of Connect Midlands, urged Advantage West Midlands to make sure their new Business Support Model, due to be introduced on April 1, would provide the advice and support needed by ambitious high-growth companies.
"From the commercial perspective, there is still some confusion about sources of investment, and there is still a long way to go in terms of streamlining paperwork and bureaucracy," he said.