Building the Next Generation of Business Angels

ESIL is aiming to boost the innovation and investment ecosystems in the European Union by creating thriving, connected, and diverse angel investment communities, particularly in countries where angel investing still lags behind. The vision of the initiative is to enable the changing face of European angel investment, reinforce the gender parity of investors and strengthen angel investing in Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Hungary, Poland, and Romania.

ESIL is supported by funding from the European Union through the European Innovation Council and SME Executive Agency EISMEA. ESIL will be delivered by a consortium of highly experienced ecosystem players, deeply embedded in European investment and innovation ecosystems, composed of META Group, BAE and Bpifrance.

2017-2019, empowering early stage investors across Europe

ESIL – Early Stage Investing Launchpad – program started in 2017 with a first round of funding to connect networks of business angels and crowdfunders across Europe and to increase cross-border investments between European countries.

ESIL’s success hinged on its comprehensive approach, combining online networking, matchmaking platforms, and a rich repository of best practices and training materials from Business Angels leaders and early-stage investors. This program not only strengthened the European investment community through international collaboration and idea exchange but also tailored its support to cater to both less developed and advanced markets, addressing specific challenges like illiquidity and co-investment strategies.

As we moved forward, these insights underscored the importance of selecting knowledgeable local leaders, fostering connections with High Net Worth Individuals, and promoting government engagement and incentives, laying a robust groundwork for our forward-looking vision.

2023 – 2025, young and gender-diverse angel focus

Starting in 2023, the new funding framework of ESIL focuses on young and gender-diverse investors to build the next generation of European Business Angels.

The initiative will mentor future investors across Europe and will propose a programme of capacity-building opportunities with a particular focus on women investors and selected widening countries. ESIL will partner with them to create a connected and dynamic European angel community through syndicate identification and creation.

EU Business Angels landscape

Europe lags behind the United States in terms of angel investment and crowdfunding. Nevertheless, there has been a significant rise in the number of startups and entrepreneurial ventures across Europe lately. Cities are turning into startup hubs, accelerators, and incubators are popping up everywhere. Business angel networks are becoming increasingly popular – pooling funds allows angels to spread out the costs of expensive due diligence, and when active investors combine their expertise, they contribute to better guidance for the startups.

However, Europe continues to struggle to find incentives to facilitate access to finance, to attract, and keep young entrepreneurs. In Europe, there are still large differences between countries, regions, and cities, and the ratio between investors and high-net-worth individuals is extremely low.

Initiatives like ESIL aim to improve this ratio. By developing cross-border networks of business angels and crowdfunders, ESIL contributes to increasing opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovative startups, which in turn will boost Europe’s economy. A particular focus on boosting women investors will be given thanks to the Women Angel Leaders Taskforce supporting female investors across Europe.