On 8 and 9 March 2022, Business Angels Europe and France Angels organized the leading event on early stage investing in Europe, with the goal of highlighting the crucial role of business angel investors for startups on the road to scaleups. Taking place during the French Presidency of the European Council, the 1.5-day congress had the core aim to advance the discussion among policymakers, entrepreneurs, and early-stage investors on the role of angel investing in the scaling up challenge. Around 200 participants attended the event.
On the morning of March 8th, BAE president Luigi Amati and France Angel co-president Alain Pujol opened the congress. Amati focused on the role of BAE as a builder of a real pan-European space for angel investors (& networks) to connect, learn and invest. He furthermore underscored BAE’s commitment to diversity, through for example the WEGate program. Amati also highlighted BAE’s role as the voice of angel investing, as shown in the position paper drawn up together with Invest Europe.
Finally, Amati highlighted the power of the BAE Club. This is a group of the best performing angel networks in Europe. First conceived as a forum for best practice exchange, has now been transformed into a medium of cross-border investment. Thereby BAE is actively connecting hundreds of angel investors, who normally have focused on their regional and national ecosystems, with startups from other countries. We are proud that the first cross-border investments have been made in 2021.
This ties into this congress. Because the problem with scaling as startups in Europe, is crossing borders into new countries. BAE believes that angel investors are the perfect harbor pilots into new markets, and that therefore the BAE Club is helping our portfolio companies scale faster.
Amati thanked Tanguy De La Fouchardière of Paris Business Angels, who was coordinator of the Club for the last 3 years. A new coordinator was presented during the congress, about which we will make an announcement soon.
Other leading keynote speakers graced the event, such as Sir Ronald Cohen (Apax Parnters), Stéphane Ouaki (European Commission), Caroline Sai (Angels Santé) and Gilles Le Cocguen (Euroquity).
The MEDEF headquarters of Paris proved to be the perfect backdrop to bring together more than 190 participants from across the continent. Special luncheons and cocktails in one of Paris’ classic brasseries gave the audience the opportunity for real networking.
One highlight was the panel on Co-investments for angel investors. Ouaki was part of it, as well as Rudy Aernoudt (European Commission), Julia Fenart (France Digitale) and Martin Bresson (Invest Europe). Together with the journalist and moderator Pierre de Vilno, they discussed how angel investing should be considered key in the "Scale-Up" challenge, as was posited by another key panel member: Philippe Huberdeau (Secretary General of the Scale-Up Europe initiative).
A key intervention was made by Aernoudt. From his position as senior economist of the European Commission, he observed that the data is showing a serious seed funding gap opening in Europe. Because of the COVID crisis, seed funders have been focusing on reinvesting in their portfolio companies. Therefore, many startups founded in the last few years have been struggling to raise. Whereas the European institutions have rightly focused on later-stage funding in Europe, this troubling development requires urgent attention to all actors involved.