25 June 2015

The academics credited with introducing the ‘business angel’ phenomenon to the UK, and stimulating more than £750m of entrepreneurial investment each year, have been recognised with an award for their outstanding contribution to business research during the past 25 years.
Business School exterior

University of Edinburgh Business School’s Professor Richard Harrison, and Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow’s Professor Colin Mason received the award for Outstanding Impact in Business, at the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) Celebrating Impact Awards.

The award recognises the crucial role their research has played in stimulating business angel investment and ensuring government support for this key source of entrepreneurial finance.

Unheard of in the UK before 1990, ‘business angel’ is now a commonly used term to describe wealthy individuals who invest their personal wealth in start-up, or early-stage ventures, in return for an equity stake.

The researchers’ proposals for business angel networks (BANs) was first adopted in 1991 by the UK government in five pilot projects, before going on to play a pivotal role in the Department of Trade and Industry’s best practices guide for the formation of BANs.

The pair’s research has also been credited with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and World Bank’s adoption of the idea of ‘investment readiness’.

Professor Richard Harrison, Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at University of Edinburgh Business School, said:

“When we set out determine whether the business angel phenomenon we’d read about in the US could be applied this side of the Atlantic, more than 25 years ago, we could only have imagined the impact our research would have.

“We are very pleased to have been recognised by the ESRC for our research in entrepreneurial finance. But to have played a part in creating the framework to promote business angels in the UK, and stimulate £750m of investment each year is substantial reward in itself.”

Professor Jane Elliott, Chief Executive at the ESRC said:

“I would like to thank all those researchers recognised at this year’s Impact Prize Awards ceremony for their important work. In the ESRC’s 50th anniversary year, they have reminded us of how much social science research can contribute to transforming our society for the better.”

The winners of the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) annual Celebrating Impact Prize, in partnership with SAGE, were announced at an awards ceremony held at Central Hall Westminster on the 24 June 2015.

The prizes were awarded to researchers whose work has had a substantial impact on society, from helping victims of violence to securing funding for UK businesses.

The winners were awarded £10,000 to further the impact of their research.