The scale of the UK Government’s backing for the next generation of British businesses has been revealed after

The British Business Bank, which administers the Government’s Future Fund program, announced on Tuesday that thanks to its loans, it holds stakes in 158 British startups.

The British government established its Future Fund in March 2020, in order help UK start-ups during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Start-up funding

Last year the government said this scheme provided more than £1 billion of convertible loans to 1,190 businesses to help them through the pandemic.

Now the British Business Bank has said it has issued 1,190 companies convertible loans worth £1.14 billion ($1.58 billion).

And 158 of those convertible loans have now converted into equity, meaning the government has the option of being able to make a return on the investment later down the line.

The vast majority of these firms are based in London.

This means that the government now owns stakes in gig ticketing app Dice FM, craft soft drink brand Gunna and DIY computer kit provider Kano.

Other firms the government has a stake in includes Vaccitech, a co-inventor of the Astra Zeneca Covid-19 vaccine, AI education specialist Century Tech, and Ripple Energy, which allows customers to own shares of a wind farm.

A full list of the companies and their location are listed here on the British Business Bank website.

“The Future Fund supports innovative UK companies that typically rely on equity investment to fund their growth,” said the British Business Bank. “By creating a bridge to the next equity funding round, the Future Fund supported these companies through a period of considerable economic disruption and now the recovery.”

“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,” said Ken Cooper, managing director, venture solutions, at the British Business Bank.

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

Additional funding

In July this year the government announced a new £375 million scheme to drive investment in “innovative firms of the future”.

The new scheme was opened for applications, as the government seeks to kickstart investment “in the UK’s most high growth, innovative and R&D intensive firms” …. “in a move designed to super charge the UK’s post-pandemic economy.”

The fund involves the government committing to co-invest alongside private enterprise to give extra impetus to businesses looking for cash to take nascent technologies to the next step.

And the government is not just targetting tech firms, but also life sciences and clean energy startups as well.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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