March 8, 2019
Angel Investing in Europe Turns 20: EBAN’s Milestone Anniversary Brings Together Its Members, Partners and Community in Brussels
On March 6th, EBAN – the European Business Angels Network – celebrated its 20th anniversary, honouring a long history of supporting business angels, entrepreneurs and the European early stage ecosystem at large. The celebration took place at the European Economic and Social Committee, in the same room where, more than 20 years ago, information on business angels was first presented to the European Association of Development Agencies (EURADA), who would go on to create EBAN in 1999.
With the founders of EBAN, as well as many of the individuals instrumental to its success in attendance, the anniversary celebration was launched by EBAN President Peter Cowley. Kristin Schreiber, Director for COSME Programme and SME Policy, gave the first keynote speech, speaking about the European Commission’s long-term support of and collaboration with EBAN, as well as the many different initiatives they have put in place to help develop angel investing in Europe. “Business angels are driven not by profit but by desire to help create and grow companies, devoting their time and risking their money to help entrepreneurs” commented Ms. Schreiber, thanking EBAN for its work.
EBAN’s 20th anniversary was a great occasion to get the “Founding Fathers” of the association together to speak about the impetus behind EBAN’s creation, the people who made it happen, and the challenges and accomplishments of the early years. The panel featured Rudy Aernoudt, Senior Economist at DG GROW and Co-Founder of EBAN, Christian Saublens, Former CEO of EURADA and Founding Board Member of EBAN, Marcello Eusani, Former EBAN Vice President of the Board, and Peter Jungen, EBAN President Emeritus as moderator, all of them giving their thanks to the other individuals who helped make the launch of EBAN possible.
EBAN’s founders were joined on stage by those who took up the mantle of leadership after them – EBAN President Emeriti: from Peter Jungen – the first official EBAN President, who spoke about the dawn of angel investing in Europe and the accompanying need to raise awareness and establish contacts with angel investing ecosystems across the world, to Anthony Clarke – longest serving EBAN President, who took EBAN through its “scaleup years” bringing in more revenues with EU projects, sponsorships, and expanding membership, to Brigitte Baumann, whose presidency focused on educating and building the European angel market, to Paulo Andrez, who developed public-private co-investment, working with governments on co-investing with angels and implementing tax incentives, to Candace Johnson, who took EBAN global with ABAN and MBAN and brought EBAN members closer together by launching EBAN communities. The accomplishments of EBAN’s President Emeriti go far beyond these highlights and have shaped EBAN’s path in many crucial ways.
Next up was Jacopo Losso, EBAN’s Director of Secretariat, who presented an overview of how the European angel market has grown over the last 20 years, reaching 7,3 billion euros in 2017, as well as the various initiatives EBAN is leading to support it: from EBAN communities that raise awareness about a given industry or sector to helping more startups scale up, supporting female angels and founders, capacity building and more.
EBAN was joined at the event by partners such as the European Investment Fund, with Oscar Farres, Head of Business Angel Investments at the EIF, discussing the European Angels Fund, which co-invests with qualified business angels and has invested 150 million euros to date. Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, the President of the European Research Council, underlined how much the ERC values partnering with EBAN and the positive effects that such a partnership can bring.
The last panel of the day featured EBAN Angel of the Year Award Winners Hansi Hansmann, President of aaia, Andreas Mihalovits, President of Marbella Tech Angels, and Tom Schulz, Founder of AQAL Capital, with EBAN President Peter Cowley moderating. With all of the panelists being active and experienced investors, the audience got to hear the way each of them approach angel investing, their dos and don’ts, successes and failures. The panel showed how each angel has different answers to important questions about how to invest and how many different strategies can be successful.
The stage was then given to the current EBAN Board, serving the 2018-2020 mandate, who underlined again the importance of business angels, the work that has been done in developing the local, regional and European angel ecosystems, and the importance of looking at angel investing from a global point of view.
But the most important message coming from the Board was the following: the best days of EBAN are still ahead of us, and so we must look to the future of angel investing.
The programme of EBAN’s anniversary event ended with special announcements from EBAN’s members and partners: with ABAN and aaia signing an MoU to start a collaboration between Austria and Africa, and the Finnish Business Angels Network inviting guests to join the next big EBAN gathering – the 2019 Annual Congress in Helsinki on June 3rd and 4th.
Last but not least, BAE Chair Luigi Amati and EBAN President Peter Cowley made a joint announcement about the two associations working closer together in 2019 and beyond, on market research, statistics and projects.
The action-packed day ended with a reception at EBAN’s headquarters where champagne flowed freely and the attendees had a chance to reminisce about the hard work done over the last 20 years, as well as to make even bolder plans for the future.
EBAN would like to thank all of its members and partners without whom it would not have been possible to achieve such a special milestone. We would also like to thank our guests for the anniversary event, who celebrated our achievements with us and made it a truly exceptional occasion.
We look forward to continuing our work of building the European early stage ecosystem and fueling Europe’s growth, and look forward to what the future has to bring for EBAN and our community.