Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a coronavirus support package targeted at the life science and technology sector businesses that are driving innovation.
The £1.25 billion packages announced will support the life science and technology sector businesses through the coronavirus outbreak to ensure new innovations can power future economic growth.
The support announced include a £500 million loan scheme for high-growth firms, called the Future Fund. £750 million has also been earmarked for SMEs investing in research and development.
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, said:
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.
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, said:
We are the tech and creative capital of Europe, and it’s crucial to maintain our place. This funding will protect high growth businesses and enable the unicorns of tomorrow to thrive so that tech is in pole position to drive our post COVID recovery.
The Future Fund
The £500 million Future Fund 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, the fund will provide UK-based companies with between £125,000 and £5 million from the government, with private investors at least matching the government commitment. These loans will automatically convert into equity on the company’s next qualifying funding round, or at the end of the loan if they are 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 last five years.
The government is committing an initial £250 million in funding towards the scheme, which will initially be open until the end of September. The scale of the fund will be kept under review.
Innovate UK SME support package
The £750 million of targeted support for the most R&D intensive small and medium size firms will be available through Innovate UK’s grants and loan scheme.
Innovate UK, the national innovation agency, will accelerate up to £200 million of grant and loan payments for its 2,500 existing Innovate UK customers on an opt-in basis. An extra £550 million 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.
This package builds on the government’s existing support for innovative, high-growth firms including the £2.5 billion British Patient Capital fund, the upcoming £200 million Life Sciences Investment Programme, internationally competitive R&D tax reliefs and our major commitments to increase public R&D spending to £22 billion by 2024-25.