The UK Innovation Fund – Just As Half Baked As Most Business Plans?

I’m probably nor the only one to be underwhelmed by the UK governments new £1Bn “Innovation Fund” – it’s actually £150m but there are hopes that with private sector leverage it could swell to £1Bn by, erm, 2019!

The main worry is that the UK government has made a habit in recent years of announcing things and then forgetting about them. There was a a £750 million fund for innovation to “stimulate growth in the UK’s industries of the future” announced in April, and according to the Telegraph

This new ‘UK Innovation Investment Fund’ is not the first initiative launched this year. The much heralded £75m Capital for Enterprise fund, set up in January to take stakes in over-indebted companies, has still to announce its first investment. A women’s enterprise venture capital fund, launched almost a year ago, has also so far resisted the temptation to profile its progress.

One has to wonder whether the true purpose of these initiatives is simply to produce sound bites such as

“This fund will help build Britain’s future by investing in key sectors. It will provide crucial support for our most promising start-ups and existing small companies just when they need it most. Venture capital finance is the lifeblood of innovation and crucial to ensuring the commercialisation of the discoveries coming out of our research base. The fund will boost future UK competitiveness,” the Prime Minister said..

or headlines like this

Government Launches £1 Billion VC Fund!!!!

The fund hopes to make investments by the end of the year, but the maths does look a bit dodgy, even for the VC industry as discussed here

We’re obviously not in receipt of the facts (and this sort of addition might be responsible for MP allowances scandals). £150 million of public money plus equal participation from the private sector equals £300 million and not £1 billion. Now – we can make allowances that this is over 10 years so the revenue gained from licensing and exits of companies funded might contribute sufficient back to increase the value of the fund. Might.

Either way, the £150 million will barely cover the administration fees of the various private VC funds that will be needed to make up the other £850 million to make this into a £1 billion fund.

Given that the Lords Mandelsonand Drayson are passionate about the need for technology investment, I’d love to think that we are missing something and that there is a solid and well thought out initiative behind this announcement, but for the moment it does look somewhat half baked, especially in light of the fact the government doesn’t appear to have any money to pay for any of this!

Comments 1

  1. Pingback: Is a Half Baked £1Bn Innovation Fund Better Than None At All? | TNTlog

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