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Entrepreneurs seek new wave of North West tech start-ups as Nova accelerates into Manchester

Andy Dean

Some of the North West’s most high-profile entrepreneurs are backing a new venture in Manchester which promises to turn good ideas into great start-ups.

Launched by serial entrepreneur and investor Andy Davidson, and backed by former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy and founder of the William Currie Group, Bill Currie, Nova helps tech start-ups get off the ground by investing its expertise.

Already established in Liverpool, Nova has now opened its second centre at Accelerate Places Manchester on Princess Street – itself a hub for scale-up businesses.

With a global team of more than 180 people, Nova has so far invested in more than 70 tech start-ups, and says the businesses it backs are five times more likely to succeed because of its specialist expertise.

Alongside Sir Terry, Bill Currie and Andy Davidson, Nova’s leadership team has been an integral part of the UK tech start-up scene since the early 1990s, and is headed by Professor Paul Morrisey, who acts as chairman

Andy Davidson said: “We know from our own collective experience in business that the North West is a region brimming with talent and opportunity. We launched Nova to help unlock that potential by supporting people and teams who have great ideas which solve tangible problems for identifiable markets.

“We’ve enjoyed significant success in Liverpool and Manchester’s own stellar reputation for generating entrepreneurial ideas made it an obvious next-step for us.”

Its Manchester operation is being led by Andy Dean, who spent 20 years working in digital technologies before joining Nova as its Head of Partnerships.

Explaining Nova’s business model, he said: “We help people who’ve got great ideas but perhaps don’t know where to go with them. If we can see that your idea satisfies an unmet need – in other words, that it’s addressing a problem worth solving – we’ll help you test your market assumptions, build a robust business plan and then pitch investors.

“With Nova’s backing, it’s a 12-month journey and it doesn’t involve you investing any of your own cash. The key things we look for are expertise, resourcefulness and resilience. What we bring is our own considerable experience through mentoring and all the services you’d expect from an office environment.”

So far, Nova’s Manchester investments include Menuguru.co.uk, which provides online tools which help make eating out easier for people who suffer food allergies and intolerances, and Connected Creatives, which improves literacy standards among young people by enabling them to self-publish their own creative writing and share with teachers, family and friends.

It is also backing Manchester-based fintech Jammtoday, an online investment comparison platform which has developed tools which help people find investment companies suited to their needs.

Andy Dean added: “Manchester provides the perfect ecosystem for what we do because it’s very pro start-up, has plenty of tech expertise, and a supportive infrastructure. We see that where we’re based at Accelerate Places, where there are some fascinating technology-driven businesses already on that scale-up journey.”

Nova has been welcomed into the city by Georgia Kaye-Berry, who runs Accelerate Places Manchester. She said: “Nova is backed by a team whose business reputation speaks for itself. We’re not only thrilled to host them here, but we’re looking forwards to another wave of tech start-ups emerging in the city thanks to their expertise.”