A new investment of £3m has been announced to help boost innovation and entrepreneurship in Greater Manchester.

The funding has been awarded by Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to GC Angels, an investment service formed to support businesses seeking access to early-stage capital and part of the Growth Company.

The investment, made through the Local Growth Fund, is a response to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, focusing on the lack of available innovation and loan capital for start-up businesses.

The £3m funding agreed by the GMCA and the LEP will be available to help to address the gap in the investment market, unlocking private capital for the region’s innovative businesses and giving them the opportunity to develop.

As a service designed to broaden access to early-stage funding for businesses with high growth potential, GC Angels has already invested over 40 per cent of its own investment capital to solo women-led or mixed-gender-founded businesses.

In addition, the funding will also be used to provide more opportunities for BAME-founded businesses and young entrepreneurs, many of whom have been disproportionately impacted by the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

Focusing on areas highlighted in the Local Industrial Strategy, GC Angels has identified an appetite for funding within Greater Manchester’s tech and digital industries, and in particular the e-learning and fintech sectors.

Greater Manchester LEP Co-Chair Lou Cordwell said: “We are under no illusion about the challenges facing Greater Manchester’s growing businesses, and the crucial role that sectors like tech and digital occupy in our city-region’s economy. At a time of such uncertainty, we need to show that Greater Manchester remains a champion of innovation.

“We are therefore delighted to award an additional £3m funding to support growing businesses seeking access to capital.”

Co-Chair Mo Isap added: “Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, the LEP has listened to the concerns of businesses and our sole focus has been on providing whatever support we can to safeguard businesses as we move into recovery. We know that our business ecosystem has a vital role to play as we build back better from the effects of the pandemic.

“Working with our partners at the Growth Company, we can help secure the success of local entrepreneurs and show investors that Greater Manchester continues to be open for business.

GC Angels has worked closely with the LEP and GMCA in supporting the early stage investment market, and in five years has facilitated investment exceeding £23m.

Cllr Elise Wilson, GMCA Lead for the Economy, said: “We know that this year has presented big challenges for businesses across Greater Manchester, but it’s also created a difficult environment for start-ups entrepreneurs and looking to start out.

“While investors have become more risk-averse, demand for investment from businesses across the city-region has remained strong, meaning many are struggling to grow. This investment from the GMCA and the LEP is intended to help exciting new businesses unlock the capital they need, addressing those gaps in the market and giving a boost to innovation.

“Here in Greater Manchester we have a diverse and innovative business ecosystem, and we’re working with our partners to make sure businesses of all sizes can access the dedicated support they need to grow and thrive here.”

Jess Jackson, Investment Director at GC Angels, said: “There is always more we can do at the earlier stages to support the pipeline of exciting high-growth start-ups. Greater Manchester is a hub for innovative ideas, and these additional funds from the LEP and GMCA will allow us to foster the next generation of ambitious entrepreneurs.

“Our new portal will also make it easier than ever for our angels to find investment opportunities, and we are looking forward to seeing how this impacts the city-region’s early-stage investment market.”