Peter Cowley, founder of corporate venturing unit Martlet, won the Angel Investor of the Year award at the beginning of this month from UK trade body the UK Business Angels Association. The award will mean Cowley will be a figurehead for the promotion of angel investing in the UK.
Marshall, a family-owned £1.3bn ($2.2bn) turnover Cambridge, UK aerospace and automotive business has started to make some noise in angel investing.
Peter Cowley, founder of the business’s corporate venturing unit Martlet, won the Angel Investor of the Year award at the beginning of this month from UK trade body the UK Business Angels Association. The award will mean Cowley will be a figurehead for the promotion of angel investing in the UK.
Cowley said the unit has proven itself as valuable to Marshall, which set up the investment unit as “an experiment”, after it has participated in 24 deals since it was set up more than three years ago, investing £1.7m in UK companies.
This has seen the business take an active role in its local economy. Eleven of the deals done have been in Cambridge, while three more have been in nearby East Anglia.
Although the unit has yet to secure an exit, it has also been deemed an initial success by its privately run company backers in its early years. Two of its portfolio have secured more than £1m in revenue from zero when they were backed. Cowley said: “This was a three year experiment which looks like it will settle for many years to come.”
Martlet is looking for soft strategic benefits for Marshall, Cowley added. “This is not just for the money, but the soft-strategic benefits of what we do. There are soft measures proving we are of value not pound notes. The soft stuff is working better than I thought it was going to do. “
He said: “Firstly we are supporting the local entrepreneurial ecosystem in Cambridge. Secondly there is a flow of technology into senior management of the organisation. Thirdly, we are spreading the Marshall brand.” He said for one deal a strategic partnership with Marshall had been secured, which “would not have happened unless I had made the investment in the first place.”
Disclosure: Cowley is an investor in the publishing company of Global Corporate Venturing.