John Mathers, ex-CEO of the Design Council, and design entrepreneur Damon Bonser have called for more investment in early stage UK product design and manufacturing companies to give the UK a fighting chance of staying ahead of international competition post Brexit.
Despite the UK having the second largest design sector in the world, generating £72bn for the UK economy, equity funding remains low. Earlier this year, Bonser and Mathers launched The British Design Fund, an early stage investment fund for start-up UK product design and manufacturing companies, to address this shortfall. The fund has successfully reached its crowdfunding target and raised over £500k on Seedrs from over 160 investors, with over 100 companies registering for funding since launch.
"The UK has the second largest design sector in the world, yet there is an astonishing lack of equity funding into early stage product design and hardware businesses," Bonser commented. "Most product start-ups are relying upon innovation grants and crowdfunding platforms to get their first products off the ground - if they're lucky. The British Design Fund aims to fill that gap and help entrepreneurs like me significantly increase their chance of success in such a thriving sector.
"We have had a phenomenal reception, both from the investment community, but also from our partners and product companies looking for investment. Over 160 investors have invested into our fund, and we have had more than 100 enquiries from viable early stage product start-ups since going public."
"During my role at the Design Council, I saw how significantly fast the UK's design sector is growing - not just in size but in its contribution to the UK economy," Mathers added. "With almost £72bn generated in 2015 alone, it makes no sense why funding is so low for the sector. That's what has driven me to help drive in the sector a change and join Damon in launching the British Design Fund."