The government have announced a new fund, “to help high-growth, R&D intensive companies bring game-changing technologies to market.” It will be open businesses across the UK and has already started taking applications from lead investors.

Why is there another new pot of money for R&D?

Companies that are creating cutting edge science or technology innovations need money and time. More money and time than other companies to get their product from idea conception, through research and development, and finally to market.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said:

“Our Future Fund: Breakthrough scheme will enable innovative businesses in every corner of the UK to access the finance they need to scale up and bring their transformational technologies to market – all while creating high-skilled jobs and boosting the economy as part of our Plan for Jobs.

“Technology and innovation will be at the heart of our future economy which is why we are investing billions in R&D to help cement our status as a world-leader in this field.

“Above all, our investment will incentivise collaboration between our most ambitious entrepreneurs and private investors, helping to commercialise breakthrough products such as new medicines and green technologies that could change our lives for the better – all while creating high-skilled jobs that help boost the UK economy.”

The government’s combined investment R&D target is 2.4% of GDP by 2027. For the 2021-22 tax year, it’s £14.9 billion. This Future Fund: Breakthrough is another step in the right direction.

Eligibility

The Future Fund: Breakthrough investment can be up to a maximum of 30% of the total raised in this investment round. And the minimum investment amount is £30 million. Your company must have already raised £5m in equity investment from third parties during funding rounds in the five years prior to this application.

To be eligible, your company must be:

  • Incorporated in the UK
  • Have at least half of its research employees and half of its overall staff based in the UK

Your company’s R&D activities must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Over the last three years, R&D spending was at least an average of 10% of total operational costs, or 15% in one of those three years
  • For at least the next three years, you require a minimum of 20% of your employees to be working on research. And these jobs need the employee to hold a minimum academic qualification of an MA.
  • Expectation that the intellectual property in development will become the company’s main income stream.

The application isn’t made by the company itself, but submitted by its lead investor.

Lead investor eligibility criteria

The lead investor will be expected to invest ‘a considerable amount’ during this funding round. They will be subject to the expected due diligence procedures and they must meet one of the following eligibility criteria:

  • Have managed an investment vehicle or fund with an appropriate investment strategy that has successfully raised investment from an institution that’s part of the British Business Bank group.
  • Have been involved with an FCA authorised firm that has an active fund of over £100m, with over 50% being private sector investment. It must have investment from a minimum of three independent LPs and an FF:B aligned investment strategy.
  • Have managed another type of investment vehicle that is also has over £100m investment capital from a wide range of investment and an FF:B approved investment strategy.

Part of the application requires an investment paper from the lead investor that lays out the full business plan and valuation for the funding.

Who is administering the Future Fund: Breakthrough money?

British Patient Capital is a subsidiary of the British Business Bank and is the administrator of this new R&D fund. Their chief executive, Judith Hartley, said:

“With many world-class universities and a strong track record in science and research, the UK is fertile ground for creating high-growth companies based on cutting edge technologies.

“Through the commercialisation of R&D, these transformative companies will help accelerate the deployment of innovative breakthrough technologies that can transform major industries, develop new medicines, support the transition to a net zero economy and strengthen the UK’s position as a science superpower.”

So, if you’re eligible and are in clean technology, life sciences or quantum computing industries, it’s time to get the ball rolling on your application.

Jamie Smith