Increasing optimism as the country emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a surge in business ambition, Michael Vassallo, Investment Director of Maven talks to Insider North East about the uptick reflected in Maven's growing deal pipeline with a particular focus on the technology sector.
Michael is based in Maven's North East offices and is responsible for new investments across the North East of England, managing Finance Durham Fund and the North East Development Capital Fund.
He told Insider the tech sector is a "major source" of deal flow as lockdown restrictions ease: "Technology businesses are seeing the greatest positive recovery, with the mass move to home working caused by Covid-19 resulting in an acceleration in digitalisation, which is now a key strategy point for almost all companies.
"Certain working and consumer practices have changed potentially forever and we have invested in North East technology businesses, such as Hive.HR and Oak Engage, that can help companies cope with this change."
However, Michael said companies' fortunes "cannot necessarily be divided by the boundaries between sectors" and that many businesses adapted significantly to survive in 2020 and have risen to the challenge.
The vaccine roll-out has also positively impacted business confidence in the region: "While some may have thought that the volume of funding applications declined during the pandemic, increasing optimism has conversely made firms more ambitious about launching their next stage of growth, prompting them to apply for growth capital and this is being reflected in our growing deal pipeline.
"The good news for these firms is that there remains considerable appetite for investment in the region, particularly in companies which have proven their resilience in recent months."
He also hailed the North East's recognition as a tech hub in which companies can access the funding, talent and real estate to realise their ambitions. Maven recently secured funding for Durham-based tech firm Plexus Innovation, which has developed an automated alert system designed to reduce the risk of waterborne disease among residents of care homes and social housing.
Maven has completed 25 local deals throughout the pandemic, many of which involved advising the council-funded Finance Durham Fund.
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