Agri-tech Innovation start-ups to benefit in latest £1.25bn Government Support Package

UK businesses driving innovation and development will be helped through the coronavirus outbreak with a £1.25 billion government support package, the Chancellor announced today (20th April, 2020).

The targeted and tailored help is designed to ensure firms in some of the most dynamic sectors of the UK economy – ranging from tech to life sciences – are protected through the crisis so they can continue to develop innovative new products and help power UK growth.

The comprehensive package includes a new £500 million loan scheme for high-growth firms, called the Future Fund, and £750 million of targeted support for small and medium sized businesses focusing on research and development.

The £500 million Future Fund (£250m from government combined with equal match funding from private investors) has been designed to ensure high-growth companies across the UK receive the investment they need to continue during the crisis.

Delivered in partnership with the British Business Bank and launching in May, this fund will provide UK-based companies with between £125,000 and £5m from the government, with private investors at least matching the government commitment. These loans will convert to equity if not repaid. To be eligible, a business must be an unlisted UK registered company that has previously raised at least £250,000 in equity investment from third party investors in the past five years.

The £750m of targeted support for the most R&D intensive small and medium size firms will be available through national innovation agency (and CHAP funder) Innovate UK.

Innovate UK will accelerate up to £200m of grant and loan payments for its 2,500 existing Innovate UK customers on an opt-in basis. An extra £550m will also be made available to increase support for existing customers and £175,000 of support will be offered to around 1,200 firms not currently in receipt of Innovate UK funding. The first payments will be made by mid-May.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said: “Britain is a global leader when it comes to innovation. Our start-ups and businesses driving research and development are one of our great economic strengths and will help power our growth out of the coronavirus crisis. This new, world-leading fund will mean they can access the capital they need at this difficult time, ensuring dynamic, fast-growing firms across all sectors will be able to continue to create new ideas and spread prosperity.”

Alok Sharma, Business Secretary, added: “The UK is a world leader in innovation and at this hugely challenging time, we know that young, fast-growing firms require tailored support to see them through. This wide-ranging package delivers important help that will protect some of the most dynamic sectors of our economy.”

Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation, said: “As an important part of this support package for innovative firms, Innovate UK will provide immediate cashflow support to small companies who are developing the products and services of the future, to continue this work throughout the crisis and be an engine for growth once the outbreak is over.”

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