HBAN angel network to be led by North and South start-up hubs

HBAN 2.0: A new era of digitally-driven angel investing in Ireland, delivered by an all-island network of hubs.

The next generation of the Halo Business Angel Network is to be managed by a partnership consisting of Dogpatch Labs in Dublin as well as Belfast’s Ormeau Baths, Galway’s Portershed, Kerry’s RDI Hub and the Republic of Work in Cork.

Funded by Enterprise Ireland and InterTradeIreland, the next generation ‘HBAN 2.0’ strategy focuses on leveraging cutting-edge technology and end-to-end digitization to streamline the investment process for angels and start-ups.

“We believe diversity of investors and investments is key to a thriving ecosystem”

The five hubs directly support over 1,000 startups across Ireland, operate 25 programmes and have key partnerships across the ecosystem to deliver a strong pipeline of investment opportunities.

A legacy of growth

It is understood that this new vision and approach for the future of angel investment has been backed by more than 100 of the island’s leading entrepreneurs.

For more than sixteen years, this cross border initiative has been responsible for the development and promotion of Ireland’s angel investment ecosystem. HBAN 2.0’s primary role is to unlock angel investing as a source of funding for new and developing businesses by matching investors with high quality investment opportunities and providing a range of support services for existing members and syndicates.

To date member angels have invested €177m in more than 700 startups on the island of Ireland. 

HBAN 2.0 will focus on delivering angel investors a strong, high quality pipeline of potential investment opportunities. At the heart of the HBAN 2.0 strategy is the creation of a unique network that brings together the largest startup community on the island. These five hubs directly support over 1,000 startups across and operate 25+  programmes, which are further strengthened by key partnerships within the ecosystem. 

Led by two experienced directors, HBAN 2.0 will be executed by an experienced full-time central team and supported by a dedicated representative in each region. The new All-Island director, Ciaran Gilsenan, was previously responsible for the NDRC portfolio of 200 startups with 75 transactions and multiple exits over the last 3 years. Suzanne Mills was one of two founding directors of NDRC 2.0, and was previously a VP at Morgan Stanley London where she led the design and delivery of a first of its kind Global Derivatives platform.

“Building on HBAN’s success to date, our vision is to deliver a new era for angel investing, both north and south. Supported by the existing angel network and syndicates, including some of Ireland’s top entrepreneurs, we are committed to providing the highest levels of service for this ever-growing angel network, while enhancing their capacity to deploy early-stage funding,” said Gilsenan.

The next generation ‘HBAN 2.0’ strategy focuses on a greater adoption of technology to streamline the investment process for angels and startups. Reviewing global best practices, HBAN aims to remove the overall friction from the process, including sourcing, evaluation and due diligence, as well as supporting greater collaboration and knowledge sharing between the different regions. This serves to reduce the time to complete fund rounds as well as making the overall process more accessible to potential investors.

A top priority for HBAN 2.0 is increasing participation of women in the angel investment network. Recent international research has shown that diversified founding teams yield greater revenues per euro invested and also that women investors are more likely to invest in diversified teams.

Suzanne Mills, Syndicate Director at HBAN 2.0 said: “We believe diversity of investors and investments is key to a thriving ecosystem. 50 leading women entrepreneurs and domain experts have endorsed our approach and we plan to launch a new women-led syndicate in the first year. We’ll also be operating specific education classes tailored to encourage greater participation” 

Another key objective for HBAN 2.0 is to cultivate a thriving angel investment ecosystem, which includes fostering the most advantageous policy environment for these investors. It will collaborate with organisations like ScaleIreland and others, to provide data-informed policy recommendations to the government, ensuring continued growth and support for the angel investment community.

Speaking about the announcement, CEO of Enterprise Ireland, Leo Clancy, said: “Enterprise Ireland welcomes the appointment of Dogpatch Labs as the operator of the Enterprise Ireland / IntertradeIreland HBAN All-Island Angel Investment Network following a competitive process.

“The growth of the syndicate groupings, with their commitment of time and capital to investment activities is a clear reflection of the success of the HBAN Programme which saw a record €33m invested in start-ups by HBAN angel investors last year. A key part of Enterprise Ireland’s strategy is to make Ireland a world leading place to start and scale a business and our investment in HBAN, along with our other initiatives including the New Frontiers programme, our new Pre-Seed start fund and research centres, will help to deliver on this ambition.”

InterTradeIreland CEO Margaret Hearty added: “The delivery of InterTradeIreland and Enterprise Ireland funded HBAN, by Dogpatch Labs, plans a renewed focus on an all-Island network of hubs, representing an exciting new chapter in fostering collaboration and growth across the island. The plan to further embed the greater utilisation of digitalisation in the delivery of HBAN also provides an exciting new chapter in the angel investment ecosystem.

“As a cross-border body I welcome, in particular, the strong North-South connection of HBAN, which builds upon the strong relationship between Ormeau Baths in Belfast and the regional network of hubs throughout Ireland. HBAN’s plan to build upon progress made to date in terms of female participation at both sides of the investment transaction is very important to InterTradeIreland, as it strives to ensure that even more growth focussed start-ups succeed across the island and beyond.’’

In the coming weeks, HBAN will commence their All-Island Showcase which will provide a platform for startups to pitch the angel investor network. Beyond this, the various regional hubs will host a range of events across the year, such as networking, educational sessions, and fireside chats, in online, hybrid, and in-person formats, using state-of-the-art broadcast facilities.

Main image at top:

Front (l-r): Suzanne Mills, HBAN ; Claire Halliday, Ormeau Baths; Ciaran Gilsenan, HBAN; Mary Rodgers, Portershed; Eshna Gogia, Republic of Work

Back (l-r): Menno Axt, HBAN; Niall Larkin, RDI Hub; Ciaran Kelly, HBAN; Ultan Faherty, Portershed; Liam Cronin, RDI Hub Kerry; and Frank Brennan, Republic of Work

John Kennedy
Award-winning ThinkBusiness.ie editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.