Pioneering Angel Investing in Spain – 15 Years with Business Angels Network Catalunya

According to EBAN’s data on angel investing, Spain is one of the top countries in Europe in terms of the overall amount invested in startups. This is due, in no small part, to EBAN Member Business Angels Network Catalunya (BANC), who celebrated their 15th anniversary this past month. Founded by the CECOT employers’ union and the Autoocupació foundation, with the collaboration of ICF (Institut Català de Finances), BANC was the first ever angel network in Spain and has certainly made a mark on the country’s early stage ecosystem.

To mark the occasion of BANC’s 15th anniversary, EBAN spoke with its Director Albert Colomer about the network’s role in bringing angel investing to Spain and how they plan to continue helping develop the field in the future.

– What are some of the achievements that BANC is proudest of over the last 15 years?

Since being launched 15 years ago, BANC has changed the way financing SMEs is viewed in Spain and particularly in Catalonia. The fact that early stage investment has become a widely used source of investment is essential – 15 years ago the only financing available was bank loans, and the term angel investing, or the practice thereof, was not common at all.

Over the span of its existence, BANC has contributed to mobilizing 165 Business Angels to make a total investment of € 11.8 million in 69 projects, which is quite an achievement considering that Spain (and all of Europe) was going through a severe financial crisis at the same time.

– What are the main challenges for business angels and entrepreneurs in Spain?

Spain has a very strong entrepreneurial community, but it doesn’t have any governmental systems in place to support angel investing. A minor tax relief for personal income was recently implemented, but there are no specific angel investing tax schemes like those in the UK or Turkey.

Another big challenge is the mentality towards early stage investment. A large part of the country still views loans as the go-to option for financing. This means that there’s less public support for angel investment, and, in some cases, less private money goes into it.

– BANC was created as a result of an EBAN meeting in Barcelona and has been a member of EBAN throughout its 15 years of activity. How has being part of the network benefitted your organisation?

EBAN is a great resource of knowledge and contacts – BANC takes part in EBAN activities every year and uses EBAN materials to fuel its own work and raise awareness on angel investing. We believe that the best way to invest in startups is as a group and, nowadays, it is also important that the group is as international as possible.

Cross-border investment is something that EBAN can help a lot with and BANC makes a point to be involved with not just EBAN, but also its partners on other continents like ABAN, MBAN, XCALA, NACO and ACA.

– What future developments are in store for BANC?

We would be happy to continue the work we are doing now until we reach our 30th anniversary. However, we are always seeking new ways to support entrepreneurs by investing in them, but also by helping them build their business.  And there are always new trends to follow, and BANC will always endeavour to be as innovative as possible in its activities.

We definitely see syndicates and cross-border co-investment as the way to move forward and we will keep working to get the government to pass a tax relief scheme for angel investors that will help them both invest and exit their investments successfully.

 

EBAN extends its congratulations to BANC for its 15th anniversary looks forward to further collaborating on the development of Catalonia’s early stage ecosystem. Read more about BANC’s anniversary celebration here.