Launch of the British Design Fund to back product designers

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The British Design Fund has launched to invest in and support early stage UK product design and manufacturing companies.

Founded by ex-Design Council CEO John Mathers and design entrepreneur Damon Bonser, the program is set up in partnership with Sapphire Capital Partners LLP and Twenty20 Mentoring.

The fund will provide financing and advice to help consumer product and hardware-based start-ups take their products to market, along with the funding they need to prototype, test and set up manufacturing.
“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.  Most product start-ups are relying upon innovation grants and crowdfunding platforms to get their first products off the ground – if they’re lucky,” says Bonser.

“The British Design Fund aims to fill that gap and help entrepreneurs like myself significantly increase their chance of success in such a thriving sector,” says Bonser.

Mathers adds, “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. 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.”

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The scheme aims to invest in companies that have protection from competition and new entrants in the form of registered Intellectual Property, and are eligible for Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) or Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) advance assurance.

Those who are keen to apply, visit the Fund’s website for the full criteria on what they are looking for.