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UK gov's Future Fund invests in more than 150 startups

The initiative was launched in May 2020 to help startups weather the economic storms of the coronavirus pandemic

The UK government now holds stakes in 158 startups, including AI education specialist Century Tech, Astra Zeneca vaccine co-inventor Vaccitech, and DIY computer kit provider Kano.

This is as a result of the Future Fund, which was launched in May as a way of helping startups weather the economic storms of the coronavirus pandemic.

In June 2020, it was extended to UK companies that have their headquarters abroad, and in early 2021, the Breakthrough iteration of the scheme saw the government invest up to £375 million in later-stage tech startups, with each investment matched by private funds.

Since then, the scheme issued 1,190 innovative companies with Convertible Loan Agreements worth £1.14 billion. As opposed to traditional loans which have to be repaid, convertible loans enable the possibility of being converted into equity at a future date. This took place on 31 August 2021, when 158 convertible loans were converted into equity shares for the UK government, allowing the startups to raise further private sector capital through an equity funding round.

The UK government’s economic development-focused British Business Bank published the list of the 158 companies as well as their locations. Thi included AI companies such as Century Tech, Robin AI, and Monolith, as well as other tech startups such as Mindtech or Kano.

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Commenting on the news, British Business Bank’s Venture Solutions managing director Ken Cooper said that “the Future Fund was created to increase the flow of capital to innovative companies at the height of the pandemic while ensuring long-term value for the UK taxpayer”. 

“We’re delighted to see so many companies already going on to raise further private sector capital. As a shareholder in so many promising businesses, the Future Fund is well-positioned to support, and benefit from their continued growth,” he added.

The majority of the listed startups, 92 out of 158, were based in London, while only four were headquartered in Wales, sparking concerns about the lack of support for outer-city businesses.

However, the government also announced that its Start Up Loans scheme, aimed at small businesses outside London, today passed the £600 million milestone. Also run by the British Business Bank, the scheme offers loans of up to £25,000 as well as dedicated business advice. The government announced that SMBs in the North West of England received over £94 million, while those in the South East benefited from over £81 million in loans.

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