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British Business Bank commits £100m to kickstart tech firm fund

The British Business Bank has committed up to £100m to private equity group Hermes GPE to back growing tech firms in the UK and across Europe.

The bank said the cash will target “later-stage opportunities in technology-enabled businesses across the UK and Europe with a productivity, people or sustainability theme”.

It added the investment came through its British Business Investments arm, a commercial subsidiary of the bank launched last year.

The British Business Bank was established by the Coalition government in 2014, and supports more than 90,000 small businesses with over £7bn of loans or investments through various programmes.

 

Scaling up

The bank has invested four tech firms that have hit unicorn status, meaning private companies valued at over $1bn. These are digital bank Revolut, currency firm Transferwise, virtual reality business Improbable and artificial intelligence-related computer chips company Graphcore.

British Business Investments will use the cash to back young tech firms through London-based venture capital firm Hermes, which has a 27-year record of investments and buyouts around the globe. The unit added the capital comes from its £500m Managed Funds Programme.

The backing from the government-backed body is the cornerstone of Hermes new Innovation Fund, which is targeting a total of £250m of capital, with the rest coming from private investors.

British Business Investments chief executive Catherine Lewis La Torre (pictured) said: “Hermes GPE is a long-term investor with a strong UK heritage and well-established growth capital investment capability. This commitment from our Managed Funds Programme will provide a steady stream of capital to innovative businesses across the UK looking to scale-up.’’

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Roger Baird

Roger Baird is News Editor at Finixio. He has worked as a financial journalist for 20 years reporting on companies, capital markets and the UK economy.