• Leigh Wharton

Student thesis: Doctor of Business Administration


Abstract Investment readiness (IR) is a process to prepare the management teams and investment propositions of early stage, high growth businesses to access and receive equity funding from investors, both Venture Capital Funds and high net worth individuals, termed business angels. Formal policy to introduce IR was formed in the UK in the late 1990s by the incumbent Labour government. The academic literature suggesting a delivery model was put forward in 2001, acting as the basis for the regional venture capital fund regimes which started investing soon afterwards. Since 2001, there has been an evolution in the structure and delivery of these investment readiness programmes. In more recent times, the nature of business support is being affected by the change in the regional government structures, the move from Regional Development Agencies to Local Enterprise Partnerships and in the transformation driven by the UK exiting the European Union. This thesis researches the changes and drivers of change, since that start period, identifying and evaluating the historical and current practices of investment readiness across the North of England. The research methods access agents throughout the process through case studies and elite interviews. The identification and quantification of the selection funnel model, an accepted concept for investment practitioners but overlooked in the academic literature, allows for a new template for IR programme structures by designing the content of the IR programme to assist in overcoming the stage gate decision points in the process. The research identifies that current IR programmes have a success rate of 3% through the funnel and this measure is a valid and relevant way of monitoring improvements in IR, a target of 10% would be a practical benchmark based on the research in this project. IR programmes need to be designed and delivered with a specific investor type in mind. Those programmes targeted at a specific end user are more successful in progressing through the investors’ selection funnel than outputs from a more general programme. The role of an intermediary not only brings trusted deal flow into investors but also provides some balance to the knowledge asymmetry between the management team and the investor whilst providing technical knowledge where this is lacking from the team; typically finance, governance and aspects of negotiating the investment deal. The main drivers for change are the cost of delivery of intensive IR activity from a public sector perspective which removes funding from more main stream business support. At the same time, the evidence is that the private sector models of investment readiness do not work as a sustainable, profitable business therefore limiting the number of investment propositions that pass through private initiatives. It is concluded that IR policy should be to provide localised support by ring-fencing monies within funds to deliver IR that targets specific investment needs, engages with practitioners in delivery and is customised to meet the needs of the investment process of the target investor. The academic and policy guidance in structuring the delivery of IR programmes has provided sound direction over the years but has had limited impact on the practitioners in the field. The research in this project has demonstrated only limited alignment of investment readiness activity in the North of England with the range of proposals over the last decade and more.
Date of Award31 Dec 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorLaszlo Czaban (Supervisor) & Louise Pinfold (Supervisor)

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