Region of Resilience

Seneca - 3360

Norman Molyneux

It was summer 2013 when George Osborne outlined his grand vision for the Northern Powerhouse, an all-encompassing growth strategy for the north that included science, innovation, transport and the devolution of authority. Heading into the New Year, has it developed from a political gimmick into a tangible strategy for progress?

The three northern regions are on track to achieve a record number of equity deals this year, across the Seneca business we have seen at first hand how Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) investment is at a record high and alternative finance such as crowd funding is becoming hard to ignore. However, this compelling narrative is not quite so simple when viewed alongside the rest of the UK. Q3 figures released by Beauhurst show that the North is lagging behind the rest of the UK, with only 17.3 per cent of the UK’s deals coming from the North compared to 21.3 per cent in the previous year.

We all have an important job to do to support efforts such as the Manchester Tech Trust which reinforces what we all know that there is a UK tech industry thriving outside London, and innovation is taking a huge hold over our SME market. The powerful corridor across the M62 provides us with a wealth of top class research institutions and of course Alderley Science Park.

It is a sign of the resilience and spirit of enterprise in the North that Astra Zeneca relocating to Cambridge from Alderley has been turned into a positive development. A group of hugely talented individuals from AZ have stayed behind and with the help of Biohub and Manchester Science Parks, it is fast becoming an early stage science and technology hub. As Acceleris we enjoyed celebrating our success at the recent Bionow awards, where the talent pool in the region was on full show.

The Autumn statement promised £4m of investment into the development of an Anti Microbial Research Centre based at Alderley Park, an exciting project that will attract further opportunities into the region.

We all felt the general downturn in the investment market in the second half of 2015, notably when national and international healthcare stocks dipped in August and the pipeline of biotech IPOs slowed as US Presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton made political capital out of a business repurposing a critical AIDS treatment by selling at a 5000% markup, giving the politicians a PR gift and presenting the US biotech markets with a huge headache.

This negativity trickled in to the British market in Q3 2015 causing the stagnation in technology IPOs towards the back end of the year. The US healthcare and technology market is now showing some signs of increased activity and this positivity should soon appear in the British market. Don’t be surprised if there is a surge of IPOs ready to go in Q1/ Q2 2016 to compliment an increase in funds available for AIM IPOs across the UK.

Overall performance in 2015, even including Q3/4s market jitters, suggest that we should stop talking about recovery in 2016 and look forward with optimism.