Government to launch £150m hi-tech fund

While some basement-dwelling pessimists may be lingering over the lamentable news the British economy has shown a 'sharp contraction' in the first quarter of this year, here at Smarta, the sun is shining and we’ve decided to concentrate on cheerier news: notably, news the government is to launch a £150m VC fund for hi-tech businesses.

The fund was announced by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Prime Minister yesterday. Business secretary Peter Mandelson said the government had identified access to venture capital as one of the ‘critical factors in developing innovative new companies’.

The announcement follows on from plans laid out during the Budget, when the Chancellor promised to create a £750m ‘Strategic Investment Fund’ which would focus on emerging technologies and, as the Chancellor eruditely put it, ‘regionally important sectors’ such as digital and biotechnology.

While £150m isn’t quite the £750m the government had promised, the government said it expected the fund to be matched by private investment and eventually build up a fund of up to £1bn over the next 10 years.

Simon Walker, chief executive of the British Venture Capital Association (BVCA), said he was ‘immensely encouraged’ by the initiative.

“It offers an exciting economic incentive for more than a thousand young venture-backed companies and the ideas and jobs which they represent,” he added.

Well, as long as he’s happy, we’re happy. So why can’t we shake the sneaking suspicion that this may be a slightly cynical attempt to get small businesses on-side?

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