The British government has become a shareholder in a cannabis oil company, a yoghurt bar company, a London-based craft brewery and a manufacturer of land, submarine and air drones which “s ‘inspire tricks animals use to get around’.
The British Business Bank’s taxpayer-backed Future Fund, set up by the government to provide loans to startups during the pandemic, announced investments in 75 other businesses on Thursday, including a stake in a yacht charter business, a developer of virtual reality games and a cure for cancer. solidify.
The fund, initially touted as a way for the government to support innovative companies that might have struggled to get money during the pandemic, now has a stake in 335 companies.
The latest round of investments includes Grass & Co, founded by brothers Ben and Tom Grass in 2019, which makes cannabidiol (CBD) products from chemicals found in hemp, which are stocked in stores such as than Selfridges and Boots.
Other new investments disclosed by the fund include Yaar, a Nordic yoghurt bar maker; Animal Dynamics, a drone company; Borrow a Boat, a yacht charter company; London-based cancer treatment company Epsilogen; Gipsy Hill Brewing Company; and virtual game maker nDreams.
“The Future Fund was created to increase the flow of capital to businesses at the height of the pandemic, while ensuring long-term value for the UK taxpayer,” said Ken Cooper, Managing Director of Venture Capital Solutions. at the British Business Bank. “We are delighted to see this flow of companies continue to raise more capital from the private sector. As a shareholder in these companies, the Future Fund is well placed to share in the benefits of continued growth.
In total, the government has spent around £1.14bn supporting 1,190 businesses through the Future Fund. Of these, 335 saw their loans converted into equity after successfully raising funds from private investments that at least matched government funding.
On Wednesday, The Times reported that at least 34 companies that received funding were being liquidated, at a potential cost of £40m of taxpayers’ money.
The government has previously revealed investments in companies including football club Bolton Wanderers, a kombucha drink maker, a bespoke shipbuilder and a knitting and crochet supplier.
As taxpayers now hold stakes in companies such as Vaccitech, co-inventor of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, and Ripple Energy, which allows customers to take stakes in a wind farm, the government has also come under fire for some of its investment decisions.
Many in the arts and entertainment industry have denounced the £1million investment in Secret Cinema, which staged immersive cinematic events themed around Star Wars, Blade Runner, Back to the Future, Dirty Dancing and Stranger Things, when so many other companies in the industry have missed out on financial support during the pandemic.