By Kristy Dorsey

Glasgow’s Gabriel Investments is transferring out of university ownership as it prepares to expand its network further across Scotland.

The business angel syndicate will now be owned and led by its members, having previously been supported by the University of Strathclyde’s incubator unit since it was first set up in 2012. Since its inception, about 60 per cent of the businesses in which its angels have invested have had a link to the university.

While Gabriel will continue to have a “strong relationship” with the university, the move is designed to open up more investment opportunities across further organisations in Scotland.

The syndicate, whose investors also often come from the university network, is also seeking to widen its membership. Private family company Shancastle Investments, chaired by Guy Stenhouse, has become Gabriel’s first institutional member.

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Mr Stenhouse will join Gabriel’s board of directors, along with entrepreneurs Nick Kuenssberg, Richard Cooper and Les Gaw. The board is chaired by Lynne Ross, with founding director Gill MacAulay also continuing on the board.

Gabriel specialises in funding very early-stage, high-risk business ventures with commercial potential. To date is has invested more than £1m, leveraging a further £20m from other funders.

Last year, the syndicate completed six deals ranging in value from £50,000 to £200,000, compared to its usual average of four deals per year.

Its financial support is often matched by funding from the Scottish Co-Investment Fund run by Scottish Enterprise. Following consultations, Scottish Enterprise has agreed to more than double the amount of available matched funding for Gabriel co-investments.

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Ms MacAulay launched Gabriel in 2012, having previously helped support more than 100 young businesses in her former role as managing director of Strathclyde University’s incubator unit.

“Early stage ventures are the highest risk for investors but our track record shows that we have the expertise and experience to assist companies in this area,” she said.

“We aim to be the foremost early stage investment syndicate in Scotland and we’re unusual in that our whole group invests at the first round. We’re always on the lookout for new angels and we offer various levels of investment options.”

Ms Ross added: “I am really proud of the fact that we give people a chance when they need it the most. Once a business is more established it’s less of a risk for investors to get involved so there are more sources of growth capital.

“Our strength is investing in young people with new and innovative ideas and we’re one of very few syndicates with this focus.”