On 1 March, BIO.NRW in partnership with EIT Health, held their 5th Business Angel Congress in Düsseldorf, Germany. The conference brought together more than 100 policymakers, business angel investors and government representatives for a series of insightful presentations centred on investment in the high tech future, common interests by business angels and government, as well as the creation of new entrepreneurial and job opportunities.

The event began with a Welcome speech by Dr. Bernward Garthoff, Chair of Cluster Biotechnology North Rhine-Westphalia. He was followed by EIT Interim Director, Martin Kern, who outlined EIT’s mission and priorities and emphasized the organization’s mission to spur innovation out of diverse partner organizations. He went on to add that EIT intends to empower innovators and entrepreneurs to find solutions for societal challenges.

Shortly afterwards, EIT Health CEO, Sylvie Bove presented EIT Health’s focus to promote healthy living, support active ageing and improve healthcare. Ms. Bove also called for a paradigm shift, which she deemed necessary in order to open up new opportunities for businesses and innovative healthcare solutions.

This session of the congress continued with the announcement of the launch of a private equity Internet based investment platform, startups4.eu , a joint initiative between EIT Health and BIO.NRW where entrepreneurs and start-ups can connect directly with business angels as well as find resources for garnering exposure and investment for their projects.

As the event shifted its focus towards investment from private and governmental organizations, a representative of NRW.BANK explained the bank’s ideology of funding businesses with market conforming equity solutions according to their Life Cycle. He also elaborated on the bank’s role as “mobilizing venture capital and support an equity culture of a region.

Following this speech, Serge Rollinger, Investment Manager of European Investment Fund, presented the European Angels Fund and other ways to finance technology transfer. He explained that the European Investment Fund provides risk financing to stimulate entrepreneurship and innovation in Europe for SMEs in order to support smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in Europe.

A government perspective was then added by Dr. Johannes Velling from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy, who presented EXIST Transfer of Research and the mission of the “German Accelerator Life Science”. This was succeeded by Dr. Philipp’s Ritterhaus’s presentation on High Tech Gründerfonds.

The extremely successful and insightful sessions of the Business Angel Congress concluded with a general discussion on governmental investment programs and alternatives. The day was capped off with a networking dinner where a number of young entrepreneurs were able to speak to business representatives and other private equity stakeholders about their ideas and make invaluable contacts in order to explore further potential collaboration opportunities.