Reflecting on a year of investment in innovation and growth

Scott O’Brien speaking at an Investor Partnership event

Join us in driving innovation, growth and lasting impact as we reflect on a year spent connecting exceptional innovators with the right investment.

More than ever, the past year has seen our commitment to supporting both innovation and growth at the forefront of our efforts. At Innovate UK, our mission is to provide the right support at the right time to innovation-led businesses throughout their journey, from concept to commercialisation, growth and scale. With the start of the new financial year, we celebrate what has been achieved and look forward to the exciting things happening at Innovate UK, as well as our vision for the future.

Making a difference

The last year has been uncertain and challenging for businesses looking to raise capital and scale. Yet despite this, we have seen many Innovate UK-backed businesses accomplish extraordinary things – growing rapidly and scaling at pace.

Looking at capital raising, across seed, post-seed and series A rounds, Innovate UK Investor Partnerships provides grant funding alongside aligned private investment from our investor partners, significantly accelerating private investment in ground-breaking UK businesses. Across initial and follow on investments, £99 million in investor partnership grants committed has so far leveraged £1 billion in private capital. Businesses are also benefiting from access to the expertise of our 115 investor partners, clearing the path for future commercial growth.

For businesses pursuing later stage innovation on the pathway to commercial success, Innovate UK Innovation Loans have played a pivotal role for more than 230 businesses, both in directly funding and de-risking innovation, but also in enabling aligned investment, which catalyses concurrent commercial development.

These loans have been instrumental in facilitating growth-oriented and innovative ventures, ensuring that businesses can scale rather than just start. Since 2017, we have committed £206 million across 255 loans to help them deliver the UK’s future economy. This portfolio now supports more than 4,000 jobs and generated £346 million in revenue in 2023.

Exciting opportunities at the forefront

Despite our successes across investor partnerships and innovation loans, we know that we will only maximise our impact if investors embrace innovation-led businesses and bring the huge power of the UK finance ecosystem to bear. Through our direct financing, Innovate UK is proving new technologies and new asset classes. To go further, we recognise the need to ensure those businesses are ready to make the transition from relying on public money to accessing private capital.

This is why Innovate UK is creating partnerships, both nationally with British Business Bank, the ScaleUp Institute and London Stock Exchange Group, and locally, through our agreements with Metro Mayors and other localities. We are committed to ensuring the ecosystem encompassing innovative businesses is better connected both locally and nationally. We are dedicated to tackling key challenges such as ensuring inclusive access to opportunities in innovation through Innovate UK No Limits, developing the innovation talent and skills pipeline through Innovate UK Talent and Skills Connect, providing the right business support through Innovate UK Business Growth, and now, access to capital through the beta release of Innovate UK Investor Connect.

Investor Connect is our new platform for creating connections between investors and innovators. It makes use of safe, secure technology, developed by Floww, to deliver an Financial Conduct Authority-regulated environment where businesses can showcase their opportunity and raise capital. So far, we have around 30 businesses on the platform seeking around £200 million in investment, with capacity to add a further 170 businesses as we develop through beta testing. All Innovate UK Investor Partners are also being invited to join Investor Connect.

Through Innovate UK Investor Connect, we aim to provide a marketplace in which Innovate UK-backed businesses can demonstrate to investors that their ideas, expertise and commercial capability are worth backing. As the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK has already backed them to this point, assessing their innovations as having the potential, with a fair wind, to deliver significant economic and societal benefit for the UK.

Now we want investors and innovators to come together to fully realise this potential and reap the benefits (and prove us right).

A vision for the future

We know that many of the businesses that have been successful over the course of this year have demonstrated great agility and creativity to navigate an innovation and finance ecosystem which remains complex and challenging. There is no single pathway, and the journey is not linear.

Over the next year, Innovate UK is committed to ensuring that at each decision point, whether the innovation is moving forwards, backwards or pivoting in an entirely new direction, the right product or service is available at the right time and the signposts are clearly marked. Whether that support is through Innovate UK or one of its partners, we recognise that this is what innovators need to allow them to spend more time working on their business and less time searching for answers.

We know too, that uncertainty is the enemy of investment. Innovation is, by definition, novel, and each journey is a step into new territories. We understand that uncertainty comes with investing in new technologies, with significant innovation and business risks.

In the coming year, we will continue to foster collaboration, connecting supply chains across small and medium-sized enterprises and corporates, and providing resources and funding to businesses seeking to scale up rapidly, which de-risks the most novel and unknown parts of their innovation activity. We will continue to foster and fund the role of government as a customer for innovation. And we will create a better-connected innovation finance ecosystem, wrapping our technology expertise, infrastructure and connections around it through our domain teams, Catapults and Innovate UK Business Connect.

Join us on our journey

We invite all investors and businesses to join us on this journey of innovation and growth. Together, we can drive economic prosperity, create jobs and make a lasting impact on society.

Keep an eye out for more updates and announcements from Innovate UK as we continue to champion investment, innovation and collaboration in the UK.

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Top image:  Scott O’Brien speaking at an Investor Partnership event. Credit: Image credit Innovate UK

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