UK government fund invests in kombucha and luxury shipbuilder | Tech Startups

The UK government has become a shareholder in more than 150 companies during the Covid crisis, including a kombucha drink maker, a bespoke shipbuilder and a knitting and crochet supplier, data reveals.

This is the first time the government’s development bank has revealed the list of companies that have received special taxpayer-backed convertible loans aimed at startups.

But while the taxpayer now owns stakes in companies like Vaccitech, a co-inventor of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and Ripple Energy, which allows customers to take stakes in a wind farm, the government has also been left to co-own the companies. crafts, soft drink companies and entertainment companies.

The Future Fund was initially touted as a way for the government to support innovative companies that would otherwise have struggled to raise funds on their own during the pandemic.

The list, released by the British Business Bank (BBB) ​​on Tuesday, includes companies like Secret Group Limited, the company that runs the immersive film event series Secret Cinema, as well as ski suit maker Oneskee and Oto International Limited, which manufactures CBD oil from cannabis extract.

This is in addition to an array of beverage companies including Skinny Tonic Limited, Watkins Drinks and kombucha maker Better Tasting Drinks Co Limited.

The taxpayers also own shares in Arksen Limited, which builds “authentic exploration ships” for “families and friends”, and Dice FM, which runs an app and website for nightclub tickets, festivals and concerts.

In total, the government has spent around £1.1bn supporting 1,190 businesses through the Future Fund. About 158 ​​of these companies had their loans converted to equity in August after successfully raising funds from private investments that at least matched government funding, leaving the taxpayer to hold shares in a wide range of small businesses across the country. UK. The list will be updated quarterly.

“The Future Fund was created to ensure investment continues to flow into our most innovative companies, and it’s fantastic that taxpayers now have shares in these top performing startups,” said Chancellor Rishi Sunak. , in a statement released by the Treasury to coincide with the release of the BBB data.

“Investing in these companies has the potential to accelerate innovations that will transform UK industry, develop new medicines and strengthen our position as a scientific superpower.”

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