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uk (76)

Gold Level Contributor

UK - How to apply to the Future Fund

:Credit: Unsplash - Gary Butterfield

The UK government has announced further details about its Future Fund — and will open the scheme to applications this Wednesday.

The £500m fund, of which the Treasury will stump up £250m, will issue convertible loans to startups to help them weather the Covid-19 storm. Government loans could range from £125,000 to £5m, and will be managed by the British Business Bank (BBB).

Investors and founders alike have pointed out that the fund could disappear fairly quickly, and many companies could miss out. However, yesterday, chancellor Rishi Sunak told Parliament that “should applications exceed the initial £250m provided, [he] will be more than happy to extend the scheme”.

“I think this will be a vital part of fuelling our recovery, because… these companies provide the growth of tomorrow and they deserve our support,” Sunak added.

Lead investors will apply on behalf of startups (and other investors) via an online portal. Applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.

To help startups and investors make a speedy and smooth application to the scheme, we’ve gathered tips and advice from lawyers, VCs and bankers.

How can startups apply?

They can’t.

Sonya Iovieno, managing director of Silicon Valley Bank, says: “Investors will need to drive the application process and lead any submission. The company itself does not initiate the process.”

Who can be an investor in the round?

“Any private investor can provide matched funding as part of the Future Fund round. They can be an individual (but cannot claim EIS), a VC or a corporate investor,” says Michael Buckworth, managing director of law firm Buckworths. 

“Matched funding can be provided by non-UK investors as well as UK investors,” he adds.

Read more

Originally published by
Amy Lewin | May 19, 2020

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Gold Level Contributor

Data from ProSapient and Adelpha

The UK government’s startup bailout package has its cheerleaders — and its critics.

Two weeks ago, the UK government announced a £1bn support package for startups. 

The news came after France and Germany announced their own support schemes for the tech sector, and on the back of fervent lobbying by the Save Our Startups campaign. As part of a £500m Future Fund, the government promised to invest £250m alongside private investors into high-growth companies, and also said it would make £750m worth of grants and loans available to research and development-heavy small businesses. 

But not everyone was happy with the result. 

The Future Fund has been criticised for focusing too heavily on the VC portion of the investment landscape, for failing to cater to the needs of diverse and regional founders and, most of all, for being incompatible with EIS and SEIS (two government schemes which give huge tax advantages to individuals investing in startups). 

The finer details of the Future Fund are still being thrashed out, with further information expected to be announced this week or next.

Question is, is it salvageable? And does it really need saving?

The finer details

The headline terms of the Future Fund have one big old design flaw, as far as many founders and investors see it: they’re not compatible with the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS). 

That more or less wipes out the chance that startups can raise match funding from angel investors or Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) — and places (some say) undue attention on the VC portion of the investment landscape. 

More than half of funding of UK startups comes from private individuals — angels, high net worth individuals, family offices and founders themselves — according to research platform ProSapient and corporate financial advisor Adelpha. Just 17% comes from venture capital and private equity funds — yet, as it stands, this significantly smaller pool of capital will be best-placed to co-invest with the Future Fund.

“The government response seems to have been largely influenced by the VC community despite how small and narrow a part of the funding spectrum they are,” says Addie Pinkster, CEO of Adelpha.

Read more here

Originally published by
Amy Lewin
May 7, 2020

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Gold Level Contributor

London has made improvements to boost social distancing using temporary infrastructure

Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London said the UK capital needs to prepare for a possible 10-fold increase in cycling and five-fold increase in walking when lockdown restrictions are eased.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Transport for London (TfL), have unveiled plans to repurpose and transform London’s streets to accommodate a possible 10-fold increase in cycling and five-fold increase in walking when lockdown restrictions are eased.

With London’s public transport capacity potentially running at a fifth of Covid-19 pre-crisis levels, millions of journeys a day will need to be made by other means. If people switch only a fraction of these journeys to cars, London risks grinding to a halt, air quality will worsen, and road danger will increase. The London Streetspace initiative aims to prevent this happening.

 Huge challenges 

Khan said the capacity of the capital’s public transport will be dramatically reduced post-coronavirus as a result of the huge challenges faced around social distancing.

“Everyone who can work from home must continue to do so for some time to come. The emergency measures included in our major strategic London Streetspace programme will help those who have to travel to work by fast-tracking the transformation of streets across our city.”

He continued: “Many Londoners have rediscovered the joys of walking and cycling during lockdown and, by quickly and cheaply widening pavements, creating temporary cycle lanes and closing roads to through traffic we will enable millions more people to change the way they get around our city.”

Working with London’s boroughs TfL will make changes, focusing on three key areas:

  • The rapid construction of a strategic cycling network, using temporary materials, including new routes aimed at reducing crowding on London Underground and train lines, and on busy bus corridors
  • A complete transformation of local town centres to enable local journeys to be safely walked and cycled where possible. Wider footways on high streets will facilitate a local economic recovery, with people having space to queue for shops as well as enough space for others to safely walk past while socially distancing
  • Reducing traffic on residential streets, creating low-traffic neighbourhoods right across London to enable more people to walk and cycle as part of their daily routine, as has happened during lockdown.

Euston Road is one of the first main thoroughfares to benefit from temporary cycle lanes. Park Lane could follow suit under plans being studied.

Read more here

Originally published

May 7, 2020
Smart Cities World

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Gold Level Contributor

Telefonica and Liberty Global agreed a blockbuster deal to merge UK mobile operator O2 with fixed provider Virgin Media and pump £10 billion into the market over five years, drastically stepping-up competition to BT.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to create synergies of £6.2 billion within five years of closing, after integration costs of £700 million. Savings are to come from cutting wholesale charges; combining IT, marketing and administration costs; and “site rationalisation”.

Once complete, the combined entity will have an enterprise value of almost £31.5 billion, with Telefonica and Liberty Global each holding a 50 per cent stake.

The parent companies expect to receive cash from the deal by taking on debt: Telefonica anticipates banking £5.7 billion including a £2.5 billion “equalisation payment” from Liberty Global which, in turn, predicts booking £1.4 billion.

After completion Virgin Media’s MVNO customers will be migrated to the combined entity’s mobile infrastructure, a blow to rival Vodafone UK which promoted winning the contract to take over hosting the service from BT in 2019. Details of what happens to this agreement, which was meant to be active in 2021, were not disclosed.

Converged competitor
The merger, first rumoured late last week, significantly increases competition in the UK telecommunications sector with currently only incumbent BT able to provide fixed, TV and mobile through its own infrastructure.

Telefonica CEO Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete said the deal would be a “game changer” for the UK market: “We are creating a strong competitor with significant scale and financial strength to invest in UK digital infrastructure and give millions of consumer, business and public sector customers more choice and value.”

Mike Fries, chief of Liberty Global, highlighted the benefits fixed-mobile convergence had delivered in Belgium and the Netherlands: “When the power of 5G meets 1GB broadband, UK consumers and businesses will never look back.”

Read more here

Chris Donkin | May 7, 2020
Mobile World Live

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Silver Level Contributor

Hundreds of people have told that they have been rejected by HM Revenue & Customs' eligibility tool for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), despite believing they fit the eligibility criteria.

The tool has told many people that they're not eligible for any help via SEISS, one of the Government's coronavirus support schemes, raising concerns that many people who thought they would be covered would now feel disheartened and not knowing what to do.

Complaints have flooded in over the past 24 hours – including from people whose income is well below the £50,000 earnings threshold. HMRC has told MoneySavingExpert that the tool is working accurately.

Read more here


Originally posted by:
Kit Sproson
May 6th, 2020

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Gold Level Contributor

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the latest government-backed scheme to help small businesses struggling to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic

As COVID-19 continues to rip through the country, thousands of businesses across the UK are struggling to access financial help during this difficult time. Now, the government has announced a new coronavirus aid scheme offering small businesses up to £50,000 in loans that are 100% guaranteed by the government.

On Monday, Chancellor Rish Sunak announced the new micro-loan scheme offering businesses "bounce back” loans amid fears thousands of small firms are running out of cash during the coronavirus outbreak. Businesses can apply for these new “bounce back” loans for 25% of their turnover, up to a maximum of £50,000 with interest paid for by the government for the first 12 months. This comes after thousands of British businesses are struggling to access credit during the coronavirus lockdown. According to reports, several banks have been hesitant or slow to lend money to SMEs under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) because they were liable for 20% of the risk. Now, the new micro-loan scheme will be 100% backed by the government unlike the CBILS, which is only 80% state-backed. Also, applicants will not need to face any viability tests but may have to undergo certain fraud checks, Mr Sunak said. 

Read more here

Originally posted
by Latifa Yedroudj on Thursday, 30 April 2020

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Silver Level Contributor

While three quarters of UK consumers believe climate change is a serious threat, they are still unclear as to which activities in their lives emit carbon.

While 75 per cent of people believe climate change is a serious threat, they are still unclear as to which activities in their lives emit carbon, according to a research report by UK-based Energy Systems Catapult.

The study, Understanding Net Zero: A consumer perspective, forms part of the Innovating to Net Zero project that modelled hundreds of potential pathways to achieve 2050 carbon targets.

Perceptions and attitudes

More than 2,000 people were surveyed in January 2020 and focus groups conducted to understand public attitudes, including:

  • Perceptions of climate change, its severity and what activity contributes to it
  • Attitudes towards low carbon technologies and behaviours in heating, diet and transport.

While more than three quarters (77 per cent) accept they have a personal responsibility to do something about climate change, this concern does not necessarily translate into understanding the biggest sources of carbon emissions or the actions that will make the most difference to cutting them.

“For example, people understand a clear link between emissions and transport, but they’re less clear on how heating and eating relate to climate change,” said Matt Lipson, consumer insight business lead at Energy Systems Catapult.

Read more here

Originally published by:
SmartCitiesWorld News Team
April 20, 2020

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Gold Level Contributor


Tasnim Ghiawadwala, Head of Barclays UK Corporate Banking, said in the announcement, “Barclays is absolutely committed to supporting all businesses through this incredibly challenging period.  This welcome new scheme will enable us to provide vital funding to those businesses not currently eligible for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme or the COVID-19 Corporate Finance Facility, but who contribute hugely to the UK economy.”

Barclays will offer lending as high as £50 million for companies with more than £250 million in turnover and as high as £25 million for companies with turnover ranging from £45 million to £250 million to support them with coronavirus-associated challenges. The lending encompasses term loans as revolving credit facilities of a maximum of three years subject to credit approval with a facility term of at least three months.

Read more here

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Gold Level Contributor

Image: Jordhan Madec - Unsplash

Around a quarter of the money will go towards a public-private fund called the Future Fund

The UK government has promised £1bn worth of support for startups struggling to cope amid the coronavirus pandemic, bowing to the pressure of the local tech community.

On Monday, the government said that it was committing £250m towards a new £500m fund that would invest in high-growth private companies that needed money. The government also promised £750m worth of grants and loans to small and medium-sized businesses focusing on research and development.

It comes in the wake of similar packages by the French and German governments earlier this month and follows a sustained campaign by influential figures in the UK tech community, with the Save our Startups lobby group calling for exactly these kinds of measures announced today.

But the pledge from the UK government will likely prove controversial, with fears that the money will help to prop up zombie startups and that taxpayers money could be better spent elsewhere.

Robin Klein, a partner at London-based VC firm LocalGlobe and influential tech figure, summed up those fears writing in a piece for Sifted: “Please use scarce taxpayers money in the sectors that really need it — hospitality, transport, recreation, arts and charities. Offering startups debt packages or handouts is not the way to go.”

The UK government was conscious of the debate and has attempted to structure the funds to limit the risk of the government spending taxpayer’s money on poor businesses.

Read more here

Read more…
Gold Level Contributor

A phone mast serving the new NHS Nightingale hospital in Birmingham has been hit in a suspected arson attack, as conspiracy theories linking 5G to coronavirus rage on.

The mast, providing mobile connectivity to the emergency field hospital, is among 20 suspected sabotages on phone lines to take place over the Easter weekend.


Although suggestions that 5G helps to spread Covid-19 have being condemned by scientists, Government and industry as “utter rubbish”, the UK has seen a spate of mast fires over the past few days.

Two 19-year-old men and an 18-year-old man were arrested on suspicion of arson after a mast was found ablaze in Dagenham.

BT chief lashes out at celebs tweeting fake news linking 5G and covid

Meanwhile, West Yorkshire Police are working with the fire service to determine the nature of mast fire in Huddersfield.

Vodafone chief executive Nick Jeffery said it was “deeply disappointing” to learn that arsonists are still attacking masts, including one serving the Nightingale hospital in Birmingham.

Read more here

Harriet Brewis, April 14, 2020
Evening Standard, UK

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Gold Level Contributor

A photograph shows the logo of Chinese company Huawei at its main U.K. offices in Reading, west of London, on January 28. In January, the British government approved Huawei to move forward with constructing a limited portion of its 5G infrastructure, despite pushback from the U.S. and some of the kingdom's conservative lawmakers.DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/GETTY

Chinese multinational telecommunications giant Huawei has published an open letter urging the United Kingdom to not reverse its position on allowing the company to build part of its 5G network.

In January, the British government approved Huawei to move forward with constructing a limited portion of its 5G infrastructure, despite pushback from the U.S. and some of the kingdom's conservative lawmakers. Under the approval agreement, the Chinese company will be allowed to build up to 35 percent of the U.K.'s network while being banned from "sensitive" portions of the new infrastructure.

But a group of conservative lawmakers have pushed back against this approval. Those critics attempted to overturn the government's decision in March, claiming that the company is an arm of China's government. Huawei has consistently pushed back against such accusations, which have also been lobbed by the U.S. The U.S. has blacklisted the company and has severely limited its ability to purchase American-made components.

"At Huawei we are focused on keeping Britain connected—the biggest contribution we can make to the U.K.'s national effort against coronavirus," Victor Zhang, vice president of Huawei, wrote in the open letter shared to the company's website on Monday.

Read more here


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Silver Level Contributor

Jurica Kuletic - Unsplash

Rishi Sunak, the UK Chancellor, has rightly won praise from across the political spectrum for his bold interventions to protect incomes, jobs and businesses through the lockdown. But history will be the real judge. Sunak will need to prevent a recession becoming a depression. As the measures are lifted and life returns to normal, victory will be a V-shaped recovery with economic activity rebounding to its pre-coronavirus peak in a matter of months. Preserving businesses and jobs will put us in the best possible position to bounce back quickly. Each lost job and failed business will mean a longer recovery, as entrepreneurs are forced to start again from scratch.

Any recovery will depend on high-growth, equity-backed startups and scaleups. There are around 1,300 venture-backed businesses in the UK, a tiny proportion (0.35%) of the 381,000 new businesses founded every year; yet, they are disproportionately likely to be successful. According to Beauhurst, 32 of the 1,545 British companies that raised equity in 2011 went on to have an initial public offering (IPO). For context, that’s more than the total number of listings on the main London Stock Exchange in 2019. These businesses are the job creators of tomorrow. It should be concerning then that, so far, they appear to be missing from the Chancellor’s plans.

Read more here

By Sam Dumitriu
Thursday 2 April 2020

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Gold Level Contributor

The U.K. tech lobby is reasserting the need to help EU startups with funding as venture capital money dries up in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

A coalition of startup groups sent a joint letter to Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, on Friday (April 3) asking that startups get a “central role in your solutions to the COVID-19 outbreak.” 

Led by the Brussels-based Allied for Startups, the letter warns that the continued economic fallout triggered by the pandemic will put the brakes on the fast-growing tech sector. As sales evaporate many startup founders have said that they are already seeing financing rounds pulled or vastly reduced.

“As with preceding disasters, this crisis is also an opportunity for innovation,” the letter said. “When looking for solutions to combat and resolve the COVID-19 outbreak, but also when looking at where growth opportunities are coming from after the economic downturn, startups are the key actors in both equations.”

Read more here

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Silver Level Contributor

The Tech Sector After COVID-19

What will the tech sector look like after the COVID-19 crisis passes? Who will be the winners and losers? Silicon UK spoke with experts in their fields to gain their insights.

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, thoughts turn to what the business landscape may look like after the crisis passes. For the tech sector in particular, which often includes companies with global footprints, the lockdown the world is currently experiencing, is damaging these enterprises abilities to access the services they need to operate efficiently.

Research from Tomorrow, Tech London Advocates is stark in its assessment: More than 50% of London tech businesses will be prioritising survival in the next three months and 49% are anticipating that COVID-19 will threaten the viability of their business or employer. All in all, 75% of respondents believe that tech companies have a central role to play in the fight against COVID-19.

Russ Shaw, Founder, Tech London Advocates, says: “The London tech community has weathered a great deal of uncertainty throughout Brexit negotiations and elections, but unfortunately this looks set to stay. Tech businesses in the capital, and in particular early-stage start-ups, are fearing for the worst, so it’s crucial that the industry collaborates and shares resources to sustain its global status in the long-term – that’s what the TLA Resource Hub is trying to achieve. The Chancellor has already announced landmark legislation, but it’s important that support reaches tech firms quickly to sustain the fastest growing sector of the UK economy.

Read more here

David Howell, April 2, 2020

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Gold Level Contributor

The U.K. government is seeking an agreement with financial institutions (FIs) to forgo the need for small businesses to offer personal guarantees to get coronavirus loans, the Financial Times reported.

Some small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have noted they were asked to provide the guarantees, which could cause the loss of property like savings.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak vowed to provide interest-free loans as high as 5 million pounds ($6.2 million) to businesses that have under 45 million pounds ($55.8 million) in revenue to aid their survival amid the COVID-19 crisis, as the government guarantees banks for as much as 80 percent of a loan’s value.

Government officials expect the approximately 40 lenders who asked to become part of the program get rid of the personal guarantee demand. Many of the larger FIs in Britain have agreed not to ask for personal guarantees with the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) after broad concern regarding the risks for business owners.

Read more here

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Silver Level Contributor

Revolut, the fast growing fintech with more than 10 million customers in the UK and Europe, has today launched in the United States.

Since hinting at a launch last year, Revolut has already attracted tens of thousands of U.S. customers.

Revolut launched in 2015 with a vision to build a Financial Super App – a single app where consumers can manage all aspects of their financial life. In four years, the company has attracted more than 10 million customers, raised over $800 million in funding, and now employs more than 2,000 people globally, including in New York and San Francisco.

Starting today, U.S. consumers can set up a Revolut account in minutes from their smartphone. Once they have downloaded the app for iOS or Android, customers simply need to enter their personal information and upload their identification documents, and their account should then be verified within a matter of minutes.

Read more here

Alara Basul / TUE 24 MAR 2020
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