The UK tech community have backed a campaign to push the government to follow France and Germany in announcing a support package for startups to deal with the Covid-19 crisis.The Save Our Startups (SOS) campaign states that many of the 30,000 startups and high-growth businesses in the UK, who employ nearly 330,000 people, do not qualify for existing support measures and so could collapse unless new policies are put in place to support them.The Save Our Startups (SOS) campaign published an open letter to British prime minister Boris Johnson warning the country could “lose a generation of startups and high growth businesses to COVID-19.”
The campaign was launched by crowdfunding platform Crowdcube and industry body Coadec, is supported by figures including Brent Hoberman, the co-founder of Lastminute.com; Alex Chesterman, the cofounder of Zoopla, LoveFilm and Cazoo; and Arnaud Massenet, cofounder of Net-a-Porter.
The organisers say that 'this is an opportunity for founders, employees, shareholders, customers and the wider ecosystem supporting Britain's startup and high growth businesses to tell the UK Government what needs to be done to protect their future'.
An open letter to the British Government:
This is an opportunity for founders, employees, shareholders, customers and the wider ecosystem supporting Britain's startup and high growth businesses to tell the UK Government what needs to be done to protect their future.
Britain has a proud history of innovation, enterprise and entrepreneurship. However, today’s entrepreneurs are being forgotten during the Covid-19 crisis, which threatens their existence. We all want a swift end to this health crisis but we also desperately need to protect the future of our economy during these challenging times.
Today, there are almost 30,000 startup and high-growth businesses in the UK who employ 3.3 million people*. These businesses are making a huge contribution to the economy but are often yet to make a profit because they are investing in their people, technology and bringing innovative products and services to market. They are highly unlikely to qualify for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), which was introduced to provide financial support for SMEs during this pandemic.
The French and German Governments have already worked to craft support that can help their startup ecosystems through the crisis. This three point plan outlines what needs to be done to protect Britain’s startup and high growth businesses:
The Government needs to provide an equity based liquidity package suitable to save startups at risk. While the CBILS covers a proportion of UK businesses, the majority of startups and high-growth companies will be excluded and as a result, unsupported. Without support, thousands of startups will fold in the coming months. The Government should provide a fresh capital injection for startup and high growth businesses through an equity-based solution.
The Government must fast track payments to startups from public funding schemes - in particular R&D tax credits and Innovate UK funding grants. Private sector liquidity has taken a major hit during the crisis with angels and micro-funds unable to provide startups and high growth businesses with bridging money. It is within the Government’s power to provide these companies with immediate liquidity by expediting the release of these funds.
The Government must change EIS, SEIS and VCTs to stimulate private equity investment into startup and high growth businesses. Startups are in freefall as they have been left without any debt or equity support. They will need to be able to access more investment from existing investors through Government schemes. If companies and investors are going to recover from this time of great uncertainty, they need a much stronger incentive than currently exists.
The UK Government must act now to protect Britain’s entrepreneurial future so we do not lose a generation of startups and high growth businesses to COVID-19.
You can sign the SOS petition here.