Government VC funds fail to deliver  

Public sector-backed venture capital (VC) funds in the UK have delivered annualised returns as low as minus 15.7 per cent, according to official figures.


Public sector-backed venture capital (VC) funds in the UK have delivered annualised returns as low as minus 15.7 per cent, according to official figures.

Public sector-backed venture capital (VC) funds in the UK have delivered annualised returns as low as minus 15.7 per cent, according to official figures.

Some £338 million has been invested in VC-style funds by the government since 2000 in an attempt to support early-stage, innovative companies, finds the National Audit Office (NAO).

However, the financial performance of many of the funds is poor. Regional venture capital funds, which have received £74.4 million of taxpayers’ money to invest in companies in the different regions of England, returned minus 15.7 per cent on average, with the government’s investment collapsing more than 90 per cent to £5.9 million since 2002. The NAO report concludes that the regional funds’ design and investment criteria have impeded their performance.

The UK High Technology Funds, in which the government invested £20 million in the early years of this decade, have returned minus 9.7 per cent per annum, with only one in nine funds showing a positive return.

Among the few longer-established funds to make money for the taxpayer are the Bridges Funds, which invest in the 25 per cent most disadvantaged areas of England. These vehicles, which can invest in property as well as trading companies, achieved a positive return of 7.7 per cent.

Private sector venture capital has also delivered negative returns over the past decade, according to data from private equity association the BVCA.

Nick Britton

Nick Britton

Nick was the Managing Editor for growthbusiness.co.uk when it was owned by Vitesse Media, before moving on to become Head of Investment Group and Editor at What Investment and thence to Head of Intermediary...

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