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Government boosts innovation schemes to aid recovery

2 July 2020: More start-ups and innovative companies are now eligible for funds to help recover from the impact of coronavirus as the government extends its Future Fund scheme and launches a new Sustainable Innovation Fund.

From 30 June, changes to the Future Fund scheme’s eligibility criteria will mean that UK companies who have participated in highly selective accelerator programmes and were required, as part of that programme, to have parent companies outside of the UK will now be able to apply for investment.

Participants in accelerator programmes are often required to set up a non-UK parent company in order to participate, which means some did not meet the Future Fund criteria of having a UK parent company when it opened for applications in May.

Under the Future Fund scheme, early-stage, high-growth businesses can apply for a convertible loan of between £125,000 and £5m to help them through the Coronavirus outbreak. According to government figures, since opening on 20 May 2020 the scheme has already provided convertible loans to 320 businesses worth £320.6m – more than the initial £250m made available at its launch.

For more information and updated eligibility criteria, visit the British Business Bank’s Future Fund page.

Sustainable Innovation Fund

The government has also launched its new Sustainable Innovation Fund, which is open to companies across the UK that need urgent financial support to keep “cutting-edge” projects and ideas alive.

Funding totalling almost £200 million could go towards developing new technologies focused on making homes and offices more energy efficient to cut bills, creating ground-breaking medical technologies to treat infections and diseases, or reducing the carbon footprint of public transport in our towns and cities.

The government has urged research and development-intensive businesses to apply for the funding, which aims to aid the UK’s economic recovery and develop new sustainable opportunities for businesses following the coronavirus pandemic while helping the UK meet its ambitions to cut carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050.

Businesses can apply for the new scheme by visiting the Innovate UK website from Monday 29 June.

Commenting on the moves, Katerina Joannou, Capital Markets Policy manager at ICAEW’s Corporate Finance Faculty said it was “good news that the government continues to review the coverage of its schemes”. However, Joannou warned that Whitehall must also “be ready to identify pinch points when forbearance will be necessary”.