technology startups

Chancellor announces Future Fifty programme to boost UK tech startups

Caroline Baldwin

Chancellor George Osborne has announced a programme in partnership with the Tech City Investment Organisation, which aims to help entrepreneurs and investors in the UK.

Future Fifty, which is part of a long-term plan to strengthen the UK economy, will support 50 fast-growing businesses through mentorship, tailored information and investment advice.

The Future Fifty programme will aim to make it as easy as possible for companies to list on the UK stock market. It will provide tailored support on issues such as immigration, exports and international trade, from a mixture of government and private sector experts. 

The programme will also help businesses to accelerate growth and help reduce the expense of investing in smaller fast-growing companies.

Additionally, the Chancellor stated that five new companies will be moving into Tech City and East London, which he described as a “clear demonstration that the world’s most innovative companies are choosing to invest in the UK”.

Future Fifty was announced during Osborne’s speech at an event run by the London Stock Exchange and Tech City UK on 25 April. 

Also at the event was Tech City CEO Joanna Shields, who believes that too many companies are leaving the UK once they become successful.

“The startup phase we’re really good at,” said Shields at an event in March. “Success in the UK is when companies can create, grow and stay to participate in the economy.”

London is one of the best places in the world to be a startup

Alastair Paterson, Digital Shadows

Failing to provide economic support

The UK government has been criticised recently for failing to secure financial funding for UK startups.

According to a report by the Science and Technology Select Committee, this is forcing UK technology companies to seek financial funding from overseas. This often leads to small companies being bought up by larger foreign companies, rather than having the chance to develop into enterprises that would benefit the UK in jobs and wealth.

The report stated that, while there is government grant funding available, the application process is highly bureaucratic and insufficient to allow startups to develop into fully fledged businesses.

Alastair Paterson, CEO of tech start-up Digital Shadows, told Computer Weekly how difficult it is for young companies to gain the second stage of investment funding in the UK.

“I think London is one of the best places in the world to be a startup. There’s such a momentum in London for us – there are all types of hubs and incubators, angel investors and government tax breaks to get going in that early stage,” he said.

“We’ve got to work and develop the next stage. Once you’ve had your seed investment, there isn’t a huge amount of funding in the UK, compared with the US. That’s why you see companies heading over to the US to get their funding. We’re coming to that crossroads right now, and we’re just assessing where the best place to take the money from is.”

UK and EU companies, as well as UK-controlled foreign companies, can apply to be part of the Future Fifty programme, which is aimed at high-tech sectors, as well as retail, finance, fashion, food and design.

Faster connectivity

During yesterday’s speech, Osborne also stated that EE will be unveiling a partnership with Tech City to provide early access to its 4G network.

From next month, the mobile operator will provide businesses with fast connectivity in the form of 4G mobile Wi-Fi hotspots in key locations in the East London area.

There are also plans for EE to provide its double-speed 4G network to Tech City before rolling it out to the rest of the country.

 


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