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Only 14% of angel investors in the UK are women, report finds

Female angels are helping female founders get funded — but they remain a minority in the UK

By Miriam Partington in Berlin

Jenny Tooth, CEO of UKBAA

Just 14% of angel investors in the UK are women, but they are still playing a crucial role in getting startups off the ground.

Between 2012 and 2021, female angels plugged £2.34bn into 4,149 UK businesses, reveals a new report by the UK Business Angels Association and data platform Beauhurst. What’s more, 1,030 (25%) of the businesses backed by those female angels have a female founder.

But there’s still much work to be done.

Female-founded companies in Europe are critically underfunded compared to their male counterparts, having received 1.3% of VC funding since 2017. And data shows women are more likely to get funded with a woman on their cap table.

So what founders and verticals are female angel investors investing in right now? And what impact are they having? We look into the data below.

Shock: there are more male angels than female angels

There are 36.8k angel investors in the UK who have backed two or more startups in the past decade — and just 5,064 (14%) of them are women.

Of the angels who have backed more than five companies, 1.9% are women.

And of the angels who have backed more than 10 companies, only 0.5% are women. 

If you’re a female angel investor, please join Sifted’s list of 150+ active female angel investors across Europe. 

Women angels love fintech

The most popular sectors for female angels are fintech, AI, adtech, edtech and healthtech.

From 2012-2021, female angels invested into 302 fintech companies, 253 AI companies and 104 adtech companies. 

Most investments are made in London and southeast England

Female angel investors are investing across every region in the UK — but over two thirds of all female investments are made in startups in London and the southeast of England.

According to the report, London holds the top spot in terms of the number of female-founded businesses backed as it is where most of the UK’s financial activity is concentrated. The east of England takes second place thanks to being host to Cambridge, where the world-famous university has created a hotbed of high-level technical talent.

Just 5% of female angel investments go towards startups in the northwest and southwest, and just 1% go to startups in Northern Ireland.

Female angel investment has increased significantly in the last decade

In 2012, female angels invested £91.8m across 250 deals. By 2021, this had increased by 190% to £266m across 409 deals. 

However, it’s notable that female angel investment peaked in 2017, with £328m invested across 630 deals. This continued to decline, hitting a low in 2020, with £249m invested in that year.

Jenny Tooth, executive chair at UK Business Angels Association, says that the drop off of female investment volumes in 2020 mirrored the overall drop (50%) in angel investing in the UK. 

“It is worth noting that 2021 whilst being a record year for equity investment, reaching twice the level of 2020, was boosted by very large VC deals in which women angels who mainly invest smaller amounts and at pre-seed and seed stage did not participate, whilst the early-stage market remained broadly flat last year,” she says.

Tooth anticipates that 2022 will show “an upward trend for women investing” — especially as there are more female-focused angel groups emerging across the UK.

Miriam Partington is Sifted’s DACH correspondent. She also covers future of work, coauthors Sifted’s Startup Life newsletter and tweets from @mparts_

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