Home » British investors targeted in first government advertising push for scale-up boost

British investors targeted in first government advertising push for scale-up boost

  • New push to get investors to back science and tech, or risk missing out on huge returns
  • focussed on growth-ready scale-ups, the ‘Science and Tech is our superpower’ campaign aims to raise the profile of British companies to investors to boost their growth and create jobs across the country
  • at the launch, Tech Secretary stresses that investors are missing out on great British investment opportunities and encourages them to look closer to home to supercharge growth

A new campaign aimed at driving up investment opportunities in scale-ups was launched by the Technology Secretary today, with podcast adverts, billboards and more showing off science and technology scale-ups to British investment hubs. 

The ‘Science and Tech is our Superpower’ campaign aims to make sure science and technology firms in the UK that are ready for growth can access the funding they need from the UK to boost long term economic growth and create jobs.  

While the UK continues to outpace the rest of Europe in raising venture capital funds, securing more than France and Germany, last year saw a substantial drop in investment globally. In the UK, this particularly impacted science and technology scale-ups. 

Britain has produced 152 ‘unicorns’ or companies valued at over $1 billion, which is more than France, Germany and Sweden put together. These companies, including Darktrace and Monzo have pushed forward global innovation in a range of areas – and help grow our economy.

But, without venture capital funding, the next generation of UK unicorns may be forced to look abroad for funding and even move away from the UK – or risk placing a cap on their growth, which hinders innovation and puts a lid on new jobs in the UK.

While British leadership in fintech, AI and life sciences is well recognised by investors domestically and around the world, but emerging strengths in deeptech are yet to receive the same support and recognition.

Science and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said:

The UK has built a £1 trillion tech sector with a thriving start-up scene. With further capital, there is no limit to where British start-ups can take their ideas.

There has never been a better time to invest in British tech companies – with the UK leading on every key European metric and leading the world on emerging technologies like safe AI.

Our Science and Tech Superpower campaign drives home the message to investors that we need to seize the extraordinary opportunities here on home turf – or risk promising companies travelling to international competitors for funding.

The new push to promote private sector investment in high-growth companies comes after the Chancellor’s Mansion House Reforms, which are unlocking up to £75 billion for high growth businesses like tech start-ups, underpinned by a commitment from UK pension funds and the venture capital community to work together to drive even more finance into scale-ups. 

Targeting investors in key financial hubs across the country in cities such as London, Brimingham, Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff, the campaign will run on billboards strategically placed 200 metres within investor offices and on key commuter routes. Wrapped copies of The Times will also be delivered to venture capital offices, and digital adverts will run online and across podcasts. 

The marketing push will show off regional ‘clusters’ of innovation excellence from across the UK, including spin-out companies that were started from research at leading universities. 

Norwich-based Colorifix was created following discoveries at the University of Cambridge, and has now developed ways using bacteria to produce, deposit and fix dyes onto textiles, helping the clothing industry to dramatically reduce its environmental impact in a cost-effective way.

Spurred by earlier InnovateUK funding, Colorifix raised £18 million in one of its early stage funding rounds, securing the support of fashion giant H&M. This was in addition to being nominated for an Earthshot prize. 

Orr Yarkoni, CEO and Co-Founder of Colorifix, said:

Since starting Colorifix as a spinout from the University of Cambridge, we have received important grants and support from governmental institutions to finance our scale-up journey, as well as valuable collaborations with world-class institutions.

More so, locating our sites in Norwich and Cambridge has given us access to brilliant minds and enabled us to build a stellar team, which has been fundamental for the success of our company.

We hope the government and investors will continue to address challenges such as inadequate funding and supporting networks to scale world-changing solutions and further strengthen the UK’s position in engineering biology.

Science and technology hubs outside of London have seen huge increases in venture capital investments since 2019, with Liverpool, Sheffield and Glasgow all seeing more than 500% growth.  

Far exceeding all other cities, Birmingham saw 1183% increase in venture capital funding raised, driven by a specialist ecosystem surrounding autonomous vehicle technology. 

Close to the city, Coventry based ‘Aurrigo’ makes self-driving vehicles that are used to transport passengers, baggage and cargo in airports all over the world.

Aurrigo’s recent growth journey was kickstarted by £16 million in funding from Innovate UK, where the company also received direct support through the organisation’s Scale up Programme in 2021. Here, it began to consider a flotation on the London Stock Exchange which initially listed Aurrigo at 48p per share, with a market capitalisation of £20 million.  

Since listing on Alternative Investment Market (AIM), Aurrigo has almost doubled in value, reaching a market capitalisation of £42 million. Commenting on his company’s growth journey, Aurrigo’s CEO and Founder, David Keene, added that:

“Aurrigo International plc is very proud to be disrupting the global aviation market with autonomous solutions designed, developed, and built at our Advanced Engineering Centre in Coventry.

We have tapped into outstanding support from the government for commercialising our innovation and leveraged every bit of academic collaboration we can from universities, including Aston, Coventry, and Warwick.

This has aided us in getting to market quicker with our Auto-DollyTug product, an all-electric autonomous vehicle that is moving baggage and cargo around six international airports. The outstanding graduates they produce have also been crucial to our recruitment plans as we expand at pace.

I’m delighted to put the Aurrigo International name fully behind the campaign to promote the UK as a Science and Tech Superpower.

Michael Moore, Chief Executive of the BVCA, said:

The UK has a thriving science and tech ecosystem built on world-class research and development, a strong talent pool and connectivity. These key factors position the UK as a global Hub for technological advancement. 

Our research shows that private equity and venture capital (private capital) invests billions in the UK science and tech sector. It’s vital that the UK remains the best place in the world to start and grow a business, and the British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (BVCA) welcomes the drive to encourage further private capital investment in these sectors in the UK.

Notes to editors

Science and Tech is our Superpower campaign website can be found here.

The UK has created 152 unicorns since 2000 that are currently headquartered in the UK (as of 26 February 2024), which is more than France, Germany and Sweden combined. 

More analysis of the UK investment landscape in start-ups and scale-ups can be found in this report from HSBC Innovation Banking and Dealroom.